IOWA CITY (AP) — Faculty and administrators at the University of Iowa have begun discussing whether to ban electronic cigarettes on the campus.
Members of the university's Faculty Council discussed Tuesday whether the increasingly popular battery-powered cigarettes should be included in a campuswide smoking ban.
The university president's office has assigned Human Resources Services director Joan Troester to gather comments about the matter. She notes that e-cigarettes aren't included in a campuswide ban on smoking, which was instituted in conjunction with the state's Smoke Free Air Act in 2008.
"E-cigarettes weren't really on the market at that time, and were not really as popular as they are today," Troester said.
The devices deliver nicotine through water vapor, rather than through tobacco smoke. Users can buy different flavorings for the cigarettes and can vary the amount of nicotine delivered in each puff.
Faculty Senate president Erika Lawrence said so far, e-cigarette use hasn't spawned complaints on campus and that discussions about the matter were intended to be proactive.
Some council members said the university should discourage all kinds of cigarettes, but others said the ban was aimed at secondhand smoke, which isn't an issue with e-cigarettes.
Professor Paul Muhly said he and students would find it distracting if someone used an e-cigarette in the classroom.
"Independent of the health consequences, I think that's reason enough to ban them," Muhly said.
Dr. Francois Abboud, who specializes in cardiology, cautioned about instituting a ban when there have been few studies examining the health effects of e-cigarettes. He noted e-cigarettes could be compared to nicotine patches.
"From a medical standpoint, we don't know enough to say we shouldn't use this," Abboud said.
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