The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported a possible link between 1,479 lung disease cases and the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping products. In each one of these reported cases, the patient has a history of using vaping or electronic cigarette products. To date, there have been 33 deaths across 24 states, and this number could grow in the future.
In response to these alarming findings, the Texas A&M System has banned the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products across the entirety of its 11 universities and eight state agencies. Although the CDC hasn’t yet identified a particular ingredient that could be causing the harm, and although the link between vaping and lung disease is still unproven, the System isn’t taking any chances.
Use of E-Cigarettes and Vaping Among Young People
Although e-cigarettes are not popular with older Americans, the use of e-cigarettes by young people has been rising sharply every year. 21% of high school students have tried vaping in the past year alone, and this number is only expected to grow despite the numerous possible health risks. The Texas System plans on challenging this alarming pattern, and it all starts on campus.
The Texas A&M University System Response
Just a few weeks ago, Chancellor John Sharp announced that he’s banning the use of e-cigarettes from every corner of the A&M System’s properties. This doesn’t just include lecture halls. It also includes parking lots, research facilities, laboratories, and outside spaces. To enforce this, some campuses have been using HALO smart sensors. These sensors have the ability to detect vape in areas that video cameras can’t be placed. Personnel can be alerted with a text message, email or an alarm will go off when a vape is detected.
Smoking bans are nothing new for the System, which introduced a tobacco ban back in 2017. The new rules, however, extend much further than the earlier guidelines, and Chancellor Sharp hopes to eventually restrict the sale of vaping paraphernalia and electronic cigarette products across System premises.
The Future of E-Cigarettes and Vaping
It’s clear now that the priority lies in conducting further research into e-cigarettes and their associated health risks. Furthermore, society must educate young people to ensure they understand the dangers they’re exposing themselves to if they choose to vape or smoke electronic cigarettes. To this end, the University of Texas System has introduced its own no-smoking initiative, “Eliminate Tobacco Use”.
Although Americans are still picking up their e-cigarettes, it seems the products are falling out of favor in legislative circles. Across the nation, seven states have already banned both the use of flavored vapes and the practice of indoor vaping, and Massachusetts went so far as to ban e-cigarettes completely.
Until the link between e-cigarettes and lung disease is tested, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people to avoid the products entirely. Right now, schools and learning institutions should be investing in virtual learning and classroom internet tools to encourage students to learn about the dangers of vaping together.
Banning the use of e-cigarettes and vaping across campus is a positive step forward in the quest to make the Texas A&M University System safer for students and faculty alike. For more information on e-cigarettes and vaping as well as surveillance options, the Halo smart sensor and security challenges faced by college campuses and high schools in general, contact us today.