Duke smoking cessation leader consults with DSG about proposed e-cigarette ban

As Duke officials consider banning vaping on campus, they turned to Duke Student Government Senate for advice.

James Davis, the director of the Duke Smoking Cessation Program, presented a proposal to ban the usage of electronic cigarettes on campus at the DSG meeting Wednesday to receive the senators’ input.

E-cigarettes were originally exempt from the smoking ban announced in April 2018. As concerns about vaping have risen significantly in recent months, with hospitalizations rising and North Carolina suing the e-cigarette company JUUL, Duke officials are weighing adding vaping to the ban. Currently, they’re “reaching out to campus stakeholders” to determine whether they should officially change the policy.

Davis explained the motivation behind a proposed addition to Duke’s on-campus smoking policy to the senators.

“One thing that really tipped the scale is the Lung Injury Syndrome,” Davis said. “We have five patients in our hospital with this syndrome now. This is probably going to continue happening.”

He also clarified the mission of the e-cigarette ban policy.

“As an administration, one of the things that we are pushing toward is a very clear message,” Davis said. “We don’t want to say, ‘Hey, it’s okay to use e-cigarettes, but please don’t put THC in them.’ What is going on here is that we are putting an e-cigarette ban.”

After the presentation, Senator Gianna Affi, a sophomore, asked how Duke’s medical team would react to potential student protests against the ban.

“This isn’t a great answer to this,” Davis said. “I think for me and many people in the administration, we would rather see a demonstration than people really getting hurt.”

Meanwhile, Senator Jannis Stoeter, a junior, expressed his concerns regarding the stringency of the policy.

“The policy is quite extreme,” Stoeter said. “Have you thought of other policy alternatives that would raise students’ awareness about this issue and how the decisions they are making are related to their personal health, rather than a ban as the first policy that students will be exposed to?”

Davis argued that the importance of the ban overrides such extremeness.

“We essentially started with the position saying, ‘let’s use a messaging and outreach campaign to let the ones who use e-cigarettes know its dangers.’ However, this was seen by our administration as insufficient in light of the severity that we see in this lung syndrome,” Davis said.

In Other Business:

The Senate unanimously funded the National Pan-Hellenic Council $5,556 for their BLK Friday Holiday Soirée. Duke Partnership for Service’s transportation fund, which will provide more accessible Lyft codes for service-oriented student organizations, was allocated $2,500. 

Meanwhile, the Senate also unanimously chartered Flower Power, a student group that focuses on floral arrangements and crafts.


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