University of California at Los Angeles chancellor Gene Block yesterday announced that the campus will go tobacco-free on April 22, 2013, which is Earth Day. Recommended by UCLA s Tobacco-Free Steering Committee, the ban will include all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and oral tobacco. UCLA Health Sciences had implemented a smoke-free policy last November, but now University of California President Mark Yudof has asked all UC campuses to follow suit by January 2014.
They re going after cigarettes, OK, says ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, but why is a tobacco-free policy going after e-cigarettes? People simply cannot perceive that these smoking cessation products do contain any tobacco and that they only resemble cigarettes in their shape.
The policy also plans to include access to a variety of free and low-cost support services for smokers, such as free nicotine replacement starter kits and California Smokers Helpline.
Yes getting people to commit to quit smoking for even one day is a noble effort says ACSH Dr. Gilbert Ross. But unfortunately, lumping e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco with cigarettes rather than offering these products as possible harm reduction cessation strategies really demonstrates the ignorance that people have about these products. Helplines and counseling simply do not cut it for many smokers, and banning e-cigarettes and smokeless may send them back to cigarettes doesn t that seem counter to public health?