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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

I support the campus smoking ban and free cessation classes for employees, but proposed regulation UF 2.022 should not ban e-cigarette usage for simply looking like smoking.

While their name and shape make them a fashionable political target, e-cigarettes contain no tobacco and create only generally harmless nicotine vapor instead of harmful and carcinogenic smoke. Pure nicotine’s similarity to caffeine likely makes their harm potential closer to that of an espresso, with the only second-hand risk being social: to be seen in the company of a “smoker.”

Our peer pressure to reduce smoking should continue, but after watching family members fail to quit smoking for decades, we should realize harm reduction is a worthy principle, too. People deserve more choices than quitting or dying, and compelling even some of the U.S.’s 14 million smokers to switch to non-smoked nicotine sources could yield great public health gains. UF shouldn’t promote these devices but simply leave regulation to existing laws. At the very least we should permit very discreet usage, especially for longtime smokers or those who’ve failed to quit.

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