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Smoke-free campus policy goes into effect March 1

by Susan Johnson, Ph.D.
MUSC Employee Wellness

MUSC will implement a tobacco-free campus policy March 1. The policy provides a healthy environment, minimizes the negative effects of passive smoke and tobacco use, maximizes fire safety and promotes wellness and good health habits within all MUSC facilities. This also includes all MUSC affiliates, and the surrounding campus.

Smoking hut to be removed
                                        March 1The use of any tobacco product will be prohibited in all buildings, grounds and spaces either leased or owned by MUSC. Tobacco products include, but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes and other smokeless tobacco products. Because e-cigarettes are used by some as a smoking cessation tool, it is important to clarify what e-cigarettes are and why they are not permitted for use at MUSC.

The smoking hut, located at the entrance to the university hospital, will be gone March 1. For information on the tobacco-free policy, visit

What are electronic cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn nicotine, which is addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user. Most look like cigarettes, cigars or pipes and when used, look like the person is smoking because when the user exhales, there's a cloud of PEG (propylene glycol) vapor that looks like smoke.

Are e-cigarettes tobacco products or drug-delivery devices?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in April that it would regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, not as drug-delivery devices. Last year, the FDA lost a court case after it tried to treat e-cigarettes as drug-delivery devices, which must satisfy stricter requirements than tobacco products, including clinical trials to prove they are safe and effective. FDA tests found that the liquid in some e-cigarettes contained toxins besides nicotine, as well as cancer-causing substances found in tobacco.

Are e-cigarettes safe?
According to the FDA, e-cigarettes may contain ingredients that are known to be toxic and may contain other ingredients that may not be safe. Additionally, these products may be attractive to young people and may lead them to try other tobacco products, including conventional cigarettes, which are known to cause disease and lead to premature death.

Because clinical studies about the safety and efficacy of these products have not been submitted to FDA, consumers currently have no way of knowing:

  • whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use,
  • what types or concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals are found in these products, or
  • how much nicotine they are inhaling when they use these products.

Are e-cigarettes recommended as a cessation therapy?
Some public health experts say the level of the cancer-causing agents is similar to those found in nicotine replacement therapy, which contains nicotine extracted from tobacco. However, both proponents and critics of e-cigarettes agree the devices should be studied and regulated more and should not be sold to minors. They may in fact be dangerous to use, based on a recent report by the Associated Press of a man in Florida who was severely injured when a faulty battery in his e-cigarette caused it to explode in his mouth—

Why does the policy apply to the use of e-cigarettes?
Because the FDA classifies e-cigarettes as tobacco products, they are not approved for use on MUSC any indoor or outdoor property. In addition, because they are not regulated by the FDA, they may not be safe for use. If they were actually permitted for use on campus, because they look very similar to real cigarettes, it could cause confusion and an added enforcement burden for all those attempting to monitor policy compliance.

For more information on e-cigarettes, visit and for information on the campus policy, visit




Friday, Feb. 24, 2012

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.