CLU policy now includes e-cigarettes and vaporizers

One of the major selling points of vaporizers and e-cigarettes is being able to smoke them in places that traditional cigarettes are not allowed. Until this semester, that included the California Lutheran University campus.

A new policy has been implemented at CLU, banning the use and possession of vaporizers and hookah pens on campus and limiting the use of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are allowed on campus but are now being treated like traditional cigarettes. Vaporizers, or hookah pens, as they are described in the handbook, are no longer allowed anywhere on campus, and are considered paraphernalia.

The policy lacks a clear difference between an e-cigarette and vaporizer. Why are we banning vaporizers and not e-cigarettes?

Vaporizers, defined by Merriam-Webster as “devices for converting water or a medicated liquid into a vapor for inhalation,” are often used as a healthier alternative to quit smoking cigarettes.

Kyle Norheim, a CLU student who turned to a vaporizer to help him quit smoking, had his confiscated after using it on campus.

“I was told that it is OK to have an e-cigarette on campus, but not a vaporizer,” Norheim said. “I laughed and asked what the difference is. It felt like I was being accused of a crime, when really I was just looking for a way to quit smoking. Companies market their vaporizers as ‘e-cigs’, because it’s more widely accepted and understood rather than vaporizer, which sounds intimidating. They’re the same thing.”

E-cigarettes and vaporizers are relatively new trends on the market. E-cigarettes use the same technology as vaporizers, but are made to look like traditional cigarettes.

The difference between the two is simply appearance. However, liquid marijuana concentrates can also be vaporized in devices similar to those that are used to quit smoking.

Salma Loo, senior coordinator for residence life and student conduct, said that there were no complaints from students or parents on the issue, but that the growing use and common illegal misuse of vaporizers was the reason for the ban.

“It was becoming more and more visible on campus,” Loo said. “A lot of schools are looking at instituting policy. Some schools are completely banning anything that uses vapor.

Research that we’ve done has shown that students often use vaporizers for illegal activity. The only reason we are allowing e-cigarettes is because of those people that are using them to quit smoking.”

The policy alone will be difficult to enforce because there is no clear explanation as to what makes e-cigarettes different from vaporizer.

Although he hasn’t had to enforce the policy yet, Resident Assistant Andrew Atakpo thinks that completely banning vaporizers was the best option because it’s the easiest rule to implement.

“There are people that put more than just a certain aroma or flavor into the device,” Atakpo said. “It’s best to not allow them on campus just so there’s a clear and concise rule for everyone. The policy significantly helps RAs on campus, so we don’t have to deal with more problematic situations that they can lead to.”

Norheim brings up a possible alternative to the current policy; one that would require Residence Life to approve a student’s vaporizer beforehand.

If seen using the device on campus, campus security would have the right to examine the product, including the container for the juice that’s being vaporized.

This would allow students to use the devices for their given purpose while still allowing campus officials to make sure it is not illegal.

“Students should be allowed to have their vaporizer approved by residence life,” Norheim said. “I’d be happy to provide the container to the juice that I’m using. It isn’t fair for someone, like me, who is quitting smoking. Just because there is a potential to do bad things with them, I think the school is overlooking the good that these vaporizers can bring.”

Overall, the new policy lacks a clear plan on how to enforce it on campus.

With the growing popularity of vaporizers in our generation, this ban on vaporizers will cause more problems than it will actually solve.

It appears the decision to enforce this policy was rushed and not enough time was taken for its development. Like Norheim said, they are ignoring the good the vaporizers can do for the students on campus.


Keith Sparks
Staff Writer
Published Oct. 16, 2013