Cal State Fullerton became the first smoke-free Cal State University campus on Aug. 1, 2013. Not somewhat smoke-free. Not mostly smoke-free. Completely smoke-free.
The idea of smoke-free has developed a controversial grey area with the growing popularity of e-cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are battery operated devices that are used to deliver nicotine, flavors and other chemicals into the user’s system.
The popular new trend is currently included in the campus-wide ban, and should remain so.
In recent years, it has become common knowledge that smoking is known to cause many life-threatening diseases. Despite having an informed public, an estimated 42.1 million Americans (ages 18 and above) are smokers, according to reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette smoking is also the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States.
E-cigarettes are believed to be a healthier alternative by many of their users, since the devices produce vapor instead of smoke. E-cigarettes are even being marketed and used as a way to wean people off of real cigarettes. This leads some to believe that “vaping” should not be included in CSUF’s ban.
It is still not explicitly clear how beneficial or harmful e-cigarettes actually are. E-cigarettes have not been fully researched yet, so consumers can’t be sure of the risks, the quantity of nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals being inhaled, or if any benefits actually do exist, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
This is not really an issue of if e-cigarettes are beneficial or harmful. The real argument stems from who has the right to make a decision that affects so many students.
Some have stated that it’s a constitutional issue, but it’s not.
Smokers’ rights have already been viewed and discussed within the court system. The common argument is that smoking should fall under the right to privacy and the equal protection laws. However, the courts have determined that smoking is not considered to be a fundamental right covered under either of these, as described by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. The reasoning is extremely specific.
The courts have said that the only fundamental rights covered under privacy are marriage, contraception, family relationships and the rearing and education of children.
Smoking is not included in the few individual private acts that qualify as fundamental privacy interests.
Smokers are also not considered to be a similar group of people to be protected under the equal protection clauses of the California and U.S. governments. They never have been, due to the fact that smoking is not characterized as an immutable characteristic. In other words, smokers weren’t born smokers, so they don’t qualify.
What this boils down to is who makes the decisions for each individual CSU campus.
That authority lies with the individual CSU campus presidents, who were granted such power from the CSU Board of Trustees.
President’s Directive 18 states that CSUF is dedicated to providing a healthy and productive environment. Student, faculty and staff all fall under the ban, which also prohibits e-cigarettes.
Whether e-cigarettes prove to be a healthier alternative or not doesn’t matter. Unless a higher ranking official within the university says otherwise, e-cigarettes are still listed as a part of the smoking ban and thus should remain off campus.