UW-Madison's Smoke-Free Policy Now Includes E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes will no longer be allowed in University of Wisconsin-Madison buildings or near entrances as part of a new school policy that says e-cigarettes haven’t been studied enough to determine if there are potential health risks.

Sarah Van Orman, executive director of University Health Services, siad that the university’s policies pre-date e-cigarettes.

“UW-Madison’s smoke-free policy, like many smoke-free policies, was written prior to electronic smoking devices becoming common. So our policy was essentially silent on the issue. What we found was that we had a patchwork of interpretations going on.”

For instance, e-cigarettes were banned in the dorms and on the medical campus. The new policy makes the restriction campus-wide.

Concerns about health and complaints prompted the change and some students and employees were concerned about electronic cigarettes, said Van Orman. They don’t contain any tobacco, but they do deliver vaporized nicotene and and other chemicals to the smoker and those nearby.

“What our campus wanted to be was proactive in health and safety is to say people have a right to be in indoor spaces where they can control the quality of air around them.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering regulating e-cigarettes. Some studies have shown they they can help smokers quit. But UW-Madison’s smoke-free campus policy says it isn’t known whether e-cigarettes will lead young people to try tobacco products known to cause disease and premature death.