Got em’… Smoke em’ but go outside please

Got em’... Smoke em’ but go outside please

Asha Njeri

Freshman Alecia Koontz puffs from her vapor pen outside the Student Union.

Carley Bonk, Contributing Writer

According to police reports, students activated fire alarms Aug. 22 and Sep. 9 with vapors released from their electronic cigarettes.

Hickory, Maple, Laurel, Larkspur and Oak smoke detectors were triggered from the vapor.

Campus police reminded students electronic cigarettes were permitted only outside campus buildings.

Electronic cigarettes and vapor pens can be a popular alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes. These devices come in many flavors, colors and varieties.

Freshman Alecia Koontz said they have become a replacement for cigarettes and are a temporary relief from a stressful day.

“I smoked cigarettes here and there for a little while, mostly when stressed or anxious.  My boyfriend introduced me to ecigs, and I have used them since then.”

These electronic alternatives are sold at most gas station and tobacco stores, while more expensive models are found from online designer brands.

One place they are bought is Vape Vibe in the Ollie’s Plaza along Scalp Avenue.

Sales associate Steve Jones said they have noticed an influx of students coming through their doors.

“We have smokers and non-smokers come in to see what it’s all about.”

Electronic cigarettes have become an alternative to traditional cigarette smokers who are attempting to quit the habit, he said.

“Our main purpose is to prevent people from smoking regular cigarettes and reduce the amount of damage to their bodies.”

They are available in low and nicotine-free varieties.  Jones said preference for nicotine levels can differ from person to person.

“We help to find the right level of nicotine for what each person needs.”

The flavor variety is also different from traditional cigarettes.

Jones said menthols are the most popular for those transitioning from regular cigarettes to electronic versions.

“We also have menthol/fruit flavors.  Cool strawberry is one of our best sellers,” he said.

Fruity tastes like Watermelon, “pom-beach”, and “Maui” also are  big hits.

Koontz picked a few she was vaping.

“My three favorites right now are ‘Pink Mango’, ‘Smurfberry’, and ‘Voltage’.”

Some students view this as a social activity on campus, Koontz said.

“I have seen a lot of students with them.  They seem to be a hot topic up here.”

It also can be a private activity. Koontz said she sees smoking ecigs as a personal habit.

“I will use it in public, but I more so vape when I am alone doing homework, listening to music,        watching TV or when I’m stressed. I usually smoke 6 milligrams. It’s very relaxing.”

Many students are aware of the sensitivity of dorm smoke detectors.  Triggered alarms result in student evacuations until campus police determine there is no evident danger.

Vice President of Student Affairs Shawn Brooks said he reminds students to follow campus policy.

“There is a policy outlined in the Living-On-Campus Handbook that states that electronic cigarettes may not be used in the residence halls.”

Students may be confused as to why water vapor would set off fire alarms meant to detect harmful smoke.

However, recent occurrences of shower steam setting off alarms in Willow Hall Aug. 26 were reported to police. Deodorizer spray set off alarms in Oak Hall Sep. 8.

Brooks recognized part of the reason for this policy is due to sensitive alarms.

“The vapor from e-cigs will activate smoke alarms,” he said. “As a general rule, e-cigs should only be used where conventional cigarettes are permitted to be smoked.”