Smoking; some hate it, while for others it’s a daily ritual. If you walk past the library, the Union or along any main street at any given time, you’re likely to see a gaggle of students having a cigarette in between lectures, revision or drinking with friends. While a normal sight, the dangers of smoking are undoubtable and shouldn’t be encouraged – with the chance of developing many health issues, it certainly is a habit to be kicked. As someone who is personally trying to quit after four years of smoking, a viable alternative was introduced to me – vaping. Involving the use of flavoured liquids (complete with or without added nicotine), studies have shown it to be much less harmful and a good meth- od for making a healthy switch. However, a question comes to mind when contemplating this issue – should students be allowed to vape inside university halls, or should they be made to leave the premises like smokers? For me, I think students should absolutely be allowed to vape inside university halls.
While vaping in lectures, tutorials or the library would be absurd due to the chance of distracting others and creating a disruptive learning environment, in the comfort of personal uni rooms I believe we should be allowed to indulge in a healthier habit – for many, vaping and the consumption of nicotine is a stress relief, and as such would be useful during times of heavy work-load. For me, I certainly would have found it useful in the last exam season and far easier than trekking outside in the freezing cold only to stand there for five minutes. Additionally, vaping around others isn’t as harmful as smoking – while second hand smoking can be seriously dangerous (and would be unacceptable within university halls, shared or not), vaping is shaping up in studies to be significantly less harmful. With halls being an extremely social environment, the use of vapes wouldn’t pose a threat to other students and would still encourage a friendly atmosphere.
Importantly (unlike cigarettes) the use of vapes would not damage university rooms. While smoking a cigarette in university rooms would pose a fire hazard, leave a lingering smell for weeks, dispel ash onto furniture and pose the risk of burning/staining carpets or curtains, vaping produces no messy or toxic by- product. In being completely electronic, the smoke produced by vapes is neither toxic or damaging and would not damage university-owned furniture. Importantly, vapes are built in order to prevent fi res from occur- ring and the safety measures in place would make the chance of damage occurring to university halls extreme- ly unlikely – like any other electronic device that can be tested, they simply have to be charged and used without any need for lighters. Moreover, allowing the use of va- pes in university halls would consequently allow students to save money. As a student who does smoke, I spend £10-20 a week on tobacco – when also buying food, textbooks and going for drinks with friends, it certainly adds up and sometimes causes me extra financial stress. When vaping (minus the cost of investing in a vape), I spend significantly less and am able to use my money more freely – however, due to vaping in halls being prohibited, during first year I tended to stick to smoking out of convenience. If students were encouraged to swap from smoking to vaping and allowed to do so in university halls, I’m sure many students would be surprised at how much money they would save.
In tangent to this, the swap to a more cost-effective and safer method of ‘smoking’ would also fix the cigarette-butt -eyesore of St Andrews; particularly evident after Friday nights, it is impossible to walk any- where between lectures and not see cigarette ends either on the streets. If vaping were allowed and thus students were given a motivation to make the swap, the number of cigarette butt s and/or papers left behind by students for cleaners to discard of would certainly be reduced. Not only would this make for a cleaner environment, but it would maintain St Andrews’ picturesque settings. In closing, I believe a debate around this issue is important. Whatever your view or preference on the topic, just discussing the pros/ cons of vaping within uni halls raises an important discussion regarding student decision-making and health. For me, I believe the use of vapes within university halls could be positive – not only does it subtly dodge the horrible situation in which some students attempt to smoke cigarettes in their room and (rightfully) get caught and punished, but it is a much healthier and cleaner habit to engage with. I know I would rather a student vape in their personal quarters as opposed to going outside for a cigarette.