KeepHealthCare.ORG – Campus policy on Juuls still hazy | News
Walking around campus, one may spot nearly translucent puffs of vapor spout out of students’ mouths as they head to and from class — you may not even notice it.
Juuls, which are a type of e-cigarette, have taken school campuses by a stormy haze.
They resemble a USB drive and use replaceable nicotine juice cartridges known as pods. One Juul pod used in the device has as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.
According to Business Insider, the Juul launched in 2015. Within the past couple of years, Juuls have had an increased presence on Gonzaga’s campus, which was noticed by John ‘JJ’ Johnston, a lead officer for Campus Security and Public Safety (CSPS), among many others.
“In the seven years I’ve been here, this month there’s more students that smoke than I’ve ever seen in seven years, I’m blown away,” Johnston said. “Like real tobacco and of course the e-cigarettes, Juuls, that just increases it.”
Catherine-Monica Resident Assistant (RA) Joseph Jerome noticed the emergence of Juul-ing this year. He has been an RA for first-year students the past two years.
“They weren’t an issue all too much my first year,” Jerome said. “I had maybe one or two conversations the whole year about them, but really this year I definitely see them more often.”
Juuls are difficult to see and this has created challenges for multiple departments within GU.
“Juuls are a little bit harder to track down,” Director of Residence Life Jon Wheeler said. “It’s not quite the same level of odor for example or visible evidence as a cigarette would create.”
Another challenge that has risen surrounding the use of Juuls is the ability to use substances such as marijuana in them.
“If students are using THC oil or similar marijuana-based vaping fluid, that would make the vape pen paraphernalia, and thus the item would be prohibited,” Wheeler said.
RAs and CSPS are aware that Juuls have the ability to be used for more than they are marketed for.
“It’s really hard to tell, but we’ve obviously found a few and you can smell that it’s marijuana,” Johnston said. “RAs and [CSPS] included, have to use our senses to see if this is marijuana or just nicotine.”
According to Johnston, inside a dorm, the RAs usually take care of issues that come up regarding e-cigarettes, but if it escalates they will call CSPS.
“We were told to treat vaping/use of any other e-cigarette as a policy violation, and you handle that with your own RD and ask them to stop,” Jerome said. “If it’s a repeating thing it becomes more of a community problem.”
As a community standard, the use of Juuls indoors are discouraged.
“Most students are pretty cooperative when we have the first conversation of ‘oh I can’t do this in the hall? I didn’t know.’ That’s usually the reaction I got and so most students kind of shape up and use it outside and at their own discretion,” Jerome said.
Jerome has not had to confiscate any Juuls and does not know of anyone who has had to confiscate any.
“There might be a perception that because it’s not actual smoke, it’s not as bad for a person to consume that material,” Wheeler said. “We certainly are not of that mindset and we want to make sure folks feel comfortable being in a substance-free space.”
Under current policy, students are allowed to use e-cigarettes in any space on campus. E-cigarettes are not treated the same as smoking a regular cigarette.
Students are prohibited from using traditional cigarettes in dorms. They also must be 25 feet away from the building and 18 years old.
Part of GU’s Code of Conduct for the smoking policy states that there is “an obligation to provide an environment reasonably free of health hazards and contaminants that may adversely affect the safety and health of GU personnel and students.”
This policy was last updated in August 2015.
The Office of Community Standards administers the Student Code of Conduct, so it is responsible for holding people accountable to the policies or expectations for the university.
“Historically, you would have thought of smoking as smoking an actual cigarette or maybe a pipe or cigar, whereas contemporary standards of smoking tends to mean something different,” Director of the Office of Community Standards Paula Smith said. “With the advent of e-cigarettes, vaporizers, Juuls, those kinds of inhalation vehicles, just the nature of how some people participate in that activity has changed.”
At most schools, smoking policies include some kind of statement that will clarify that it includes things such as e-cigarettes or vaping.
“The time is really right to broaden our smoking policy, to be more inclusive to understand or how to address how it is that people are smoking,” Smith said.
The smoking policy on campus is managed and coordinated by the Environmental Health and Safety department that is attached to the division of Human Resources and is responsible for the smoking policy.
The Office of Community Standards is supportive of and connected with Environmental Health and Safety and met with members about a year ago to provide some context about the nature of what smoking means in a contemporary sense. No action was taken at that point, so they are going to make another attempt at updating and clarifying the smoking policy. The meeting is planned for next Thursday.
“I think our office has been aware for a couple of years now that there’s just a need to update our language and understanding, because we don’t want policies to be something that aren’t clear. So how can we expect people to abide by what our standards are if we aren’t clear what those standards are?” Smith said.
If Environmental Health and Safety were to approve any update it would be put into effect at the beginning of the next academic year.
Juliette Carey is a staff writer.