IOWA CITY — In the University of Iowa’s efforts to update its smoking policy, administrators are having conversations across campus about how to handle some of today’s newer products — including electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products, like those that dissolve in your mouth.
Joni Troester, director of UI Human Resource Services Organizational Effectiveness, on Wednesday asked the UI Staff Council to weigh in on the subject — taking a “straw poll” of whether members want the UI’s smoking policy to remain unchanged, amended to prohibit e-cigarettes only, or updated to include all chewless and smokeless products.
A majority — 19 members — voted in favor of an updated comprehensive tobacco-free policy, similar to one proposed by the Food and Drug Administration that includes e-cigarettes, dissolvables and water pipe tobacco.
Ten members voted to amend the current policy — which bans smoking but not chewless and smokeless products — to include e-cigarettes only. And only two voted to keep the policy as is.
Troester said administrators will use the information from Wednesday’s Staff Council meeting to inform its decision on how to move forward.
The Johnson County Department of Public Health recently came out in support of including e-cigarettes in existing smoke-free policies, and the Johnson County Board of Supervisors has added e-cigarettes to the county’s smoking ban, which prohibits use in county buildings and on county property.
Iowa City is considering banning use of e-cigarettes on city-owned property, and several other Big Ten universities — like Indiana University, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota, and Ohio State University — have gone totally tobacco free, including e-cigarettes.
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Electronic cigarettes are battery-powered vaporizers that mimic the feel of tobacco smoking. They produce a mist instead of cigarette smoke generated from a liquid solution that, in many cases, includes nicotine.
The FDA’s proposed rule to bring products like e-cigarettes under its regulatory authority was open for public comment earlier this summer. The public comment period ended July 9, and final decision is expected next summer.