01/14/2014 11:41 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Should Campus Smoking Bans Start Including E-Cigarettes?

Most college students today don't know what it's like to be able to burn a cigarette on campus, but if current trends continue, they may not know what it's like to use an e-cigarrette at school either.

Around 1,200 colleges ban the use of conventional cigarettes on campus, according to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation. The idea has generally been popular, though universities still saw some pushback.

Research from Indiana University suggested these smoking bans are effective in decreasing the number of smokers at the school, which may be why colleges are now setting their sights on products that don't have the problem of secondhand smoke.

The University of Iowa, for example, considered banning e-cigs last year, but officials couldn't come to a concensus.

"There are many more questions than answers at this stage," UI spokesman Tom Moore told Inside Higher Ed in October 2013.

So why ban something that doesn't impact anyone through secondhand smoke?

"I believe it's in the university's strategy as it sees itself to promote health," said Sophia Tolliver, a med student at Ohio State University, in a HuffPost Live segment. The university recently banned all tobacco products on campus, as well as e-cigs.

Early analyses suggest e-cigs, which emit vapors, can actually be more harmful to a user's health than normal smokes. A University of Minnesota study found more than half of young adults, ages 18 to 26, would try an e-cig if a friend offered them one.

Some universities still remain divided between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. The University of California system recently banned smoking, and while most of the 10 campuses will include e-cigs in that prohobition, UC-Irvine plans to still allow those electronic alternatives.

"I don't necessarily agree that I shouldn't be allowed to have chewing tobacco or I shouldn't be allowed to use e-cigarettes," said Denis McKinnon, a Florida State University student. "That doesn't affect anyone other than myself."

Nearly two dozen universities in Florida have gone smokefree.

It's getting to the point where few colleges remain where smokers can stroll through campus puffing a cigarette. If that becomes the case and there is no campus supporting smokers, "Students would have to chose between smoking and college," quipped Sarah Spiegelman, a student at Tulane University.

Watch the HuffPost Live segment in the video above.



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