Thank You For Not Vaping

Paul Bass PhotosGateway Community College earned props for becoming the state’s first smoke-free public campus—and made it clear that its ban includes those much-debated electronic cigarettes.

The federal government’s number-two regional health administrator, Betsy Rosenfeld, came to the downtown New Haven campus Wednesday to present Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick with a plaque officially recognizing the college as smoke-free, the first of 17 state colleges and university to ban smoking completely throughout the premises. The event was held a week after the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Surgeon General’s landmark report on the health perils of smoking. Gateway has been smoke-free since it opened in 2012.

Addressing a crowd at the event, Connecticut’s public health commissioner, Jewel Mullen, spoke of how college-aged people remain the most susceptible to tobacco addiction. Statewide, 16 percent of people smoke tobacco cigarettes, she said. A third of all Nutmeggers between the ages of 18 and 24 are smoking.

Some have been taking up “vaping,” or smoking nicotine-infused “e-cigarettes.” (Click here for a story on that.) E-cigarettes use a battery to heat liquid, turning it into a vapor. The liquid, or “e-juice,” comes in disposable cartridges containing chemicals, vegetable glycerine, flavors and varying amounts of nicotine. The consumer inhales the vapor instead of smoke.

The public health community nationwide is in the midst of a spirited debate on the fast-growing practice. Some recommend encouraging vaping to wean smokers from cancer-causing tobacco. Others recommend including it in smoke-free bans to avoid hooking new smokers on nicotine, in the fear that they will move on to tobacco cigarettes. (Click here for a story on New York City’s debate.) E-cigarette companies, meanwhile, are targeting teens.

Gateway has come down on the side of including vaping in its ban, said Kendrick. “‘Smoke-free includes everything. We don’t want any distractions. We don’t want anything that reminds us that we are supporting anything that has to do with tobacco smoking. We don’t want the students to go into the classroom feeling ‘Gee, well I can just bring in the e-cigarettes.’”

Mullen said she, like public health officials nationwide, is waiting for the federal Food and Drug Administration to draw conclusions from research currently under way. For now, she said, her department recommends that people “proceed with caution” on e-cigarettes. Especially young people. “What we worry about is having individuals get hooked on something and then not be able to stop,” Mullen said. “What they’re getting hooked on is nicotine, then anything that can lead to that, might lead them to smoke.”

Gateway manufacturing and engineering student Tabitha Ginger was outside the Gateway George Street entrance smoking a cigarette and drinking a Monster energy drink as the indoors anti-smoking event broke up Wednesday afternoon. Asked her opinion on the smoking ban, she replied, “That sucks. A lot of us actually need it because of all the stress going on. It just relaxes us for the most part.” She said she doesn’t vape, but might if it were allowed inside the school. She argued it should be allowed. “A lot of people don’t want to go outside just to smoke a fake cigarette,” she said.

Click on the video to hear more from her, Mullen, and Kendrick.

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posted by: robn on January 30, 2014  11:12am

I don’t begrudge anyone their legal intoxicants but really, would you allow someone of age to pour themselves a drink during a learning class?

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 30, 2014  5:28pm


If you are the one paying for the classes, why not a cocktail, if it is imbibed in a discrete, non-disruptive fashion….

posted by: robn on January 30, 2014  6:16pm


Because part of what you’re paying for is good judgment from your instructors and no instructor with good judgment would determine that an intoxicated person learns as well as a sober person.

posted by: HewNaven on January 30, 2014  8:05pm

I’m split on the poll. I can see why vaping in an office or classroom would be distracting and counterproductive in an environment that encourages healthy employees/students. But, what about vaping in a bar or club? They’re already serving alcohol in those places. It would be hypocritical to ban vaping.

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 30, 2014  8:28pm


You are paying for a learning experience.  What that means to the person paying for it is not codified by law. 

Again, if you are not disrupting ‘the class’, I say ‘go for it’.  Leave it to the teachers to manage their classroom. We are dealing with adults here, not children If someone is being ‘disruptive’, manage ‘the problem’, whatever that might be, not the ‘list of poor behaviours’,

This is an administrative edict, and, as we know, administrators are always looking for something new to administrate…...

Hell, I’ve seen pictures of my father doing calculus problems on the blackboard at Cooper Union with a Cigarette hanging out of his mouth.  How times have changed…..

posted by: Bill Saunders on January 30, 2014  8:50pm

Remember, when the smoking ban took place over a decade ago, Public Health was the Flag being marched under.  Need to protect the innocent from second-hand smoke…..

So, who are we really trying to protect here?  Students from their own bad learning beheaviours—I think not.

I see recent advances in unregulated ‘smoking technology’ looking for a way onto the legislative agenda.

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on January 30, 2014  9:03pm

Robn by the same logic should soda and junk food be banned from the school as well?

You want people to listen to reason and logic and not smoke, but then you betray reason and logic and ban something that is harmless to non-users and orders of magnitude less harmful than its analogue alternative to direct users.  I think it undermines their credibility extending the ban to e-cigarettes using the same old “war on drugs” rationales.

Smoking is like taking poison.  Vaping is like eating McDonald’s.  Yeah, you shouldn’t do either, but they’r far from equivalent.

posted by: robn on January 31, 2014  10:12am


I have no objection to people vaping on their own time but if I were a teacher or a student, I’d want an electrified learning experience, not one dulled by intoxicated fellow students.