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Prince George's Community College bans e-cigarettes

Monday - 7/28/2014, 6:23pm  ET

It’s hardly newsworthy these days when an institution announces it's going smoke-free. But Prince George’s Community College introduced one of the strictest policies around Monday, banning e-cigarettes along with all other smoke and tobacco products.

Starting Sept. 15, electronic devices for smoking won’t be allowed on campus — or even in personal vehicles — at the Largo college. That policy applies to regular cigarettes as well as hookahs, chew and any other product tobacco companies invent, said Lark Dobson, the dean of human resources.

"They get creative," Dobson said, referring to a broad list of smoke and tobacco products students bring to campus. “We knew it was coming and even got some complaints about students smoking e-cigarettes in class. We wanted to make sure there is no confusion for our students or our staff.”

The reasoning behind the ban: E-cigarettes produce a vapor from nicotine that is considered a tobacco product.

While many organizations have smoke-free and tobacco-free policies, few explicitly mention e-cigarettes or the booming industry of smoking alternatives, including dissolvable tobacco called “orbs” and snuff pouches called “snus” as smokers face more and more restrictions on where they can light up.

The e-cigarette industry — which has been hit with heavy regulation this year even as it has marketed a less-toxic alternative and, in some cases, a tool for quitting — was expected to see sales double to $1.7 billion last year. Smokeless tobacco advertising rose to $451.7 million in 2011, up from $444.2 million in 2010, according to the most recent available data from the Federal Trade Commission.

Dobson said by waiting to introduce a smoke-free policy until now, the community college was able to incorporate these new products into its ban and benefit from the experiences of other smoke-free institutions.

The school is planning a “Breathe Free” program with cessation and wellness materials, screenings and workshops to support tobacco users in their efforts to quit. School officials plan to have campus police start enforcement by handing out cards containing cessation resource information.

© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.