I want to start off by saying that I have no problem with a tobacco ban on campus; I understand that the funding received from the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) is critical to continuing to perform cutting edge and potentially life-saving research here at UT, as well as the public health benefits of instituting such a ban. That being said, I find it puzzling in the extreme that CPRIT has chosen to include a ban on electronic cigarettes in its stipulation for funding.
The problem is that e-cigarettes are not a tobacco product. They traditionally contain no tar, or any known carcinogens. By contrast, cigarettes contain at least 19 known carcinogenic chemicals. There has not yet been much research on the safety or usefulness of e-cigarettes as smoking-cessation devices, due in large part to their relatively recent invention. Because of this, e-cigarettes have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a smoking-cessation device, yet I and many smokers I know have had great success in cutting back on smoking or quitting completely through its use.
In e-cigarettes, I and many others see great potential for a tool that helps people quit smoking, preserves public health by reducing second-hand smoke and allows persons the freedom to continue to consume nicotine in a relatively safe manner. CPRIT is fighting against against its own interests and the interests of University students by including e-cigarettes under its stipulations for funding. Perhaps a portion of the research money which the University will receive should go to investigating cancer prevention methods that new technology create for us recently but are not yet fully understood.