Texas A&M University

The Texas A&M University System has taken a hard line against vaping, prohibiting it on all of its properties — not just its 11 universities.

To fully appreciate how big a deal this is, consider that Texas has 254 counties and A&M’s brand can be found somewhere within 250 of them. In addition to the school campuses there are all the agricultural extension service facilities and a health science center.

It means that the ban isn’t just for college students.

Is this “nanny-statism”?

You could look at it that way. It infringes on the rights of individuals to indulge in unhealthy but legal behavior.

But you also could look at it as A&M’s exercise of its property rights. A&M isn’t saying you can’t vape on property not owned by the A&M System — though clearly for your own good and the good of those around you, A&M wishes you wouldn’t.

And there’s yet another way to look at it, still from the issue of individual rights, and that’s from the standpoint of an individual’s right not to breathe someone else’s secondhand vape.

That’s how we look at both vape and smoke from old-fashioned cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Nonsmokers and non-vapers shouldn’t have to breathe vape or smoke, both of which harm human health. It should not be one of the hazards of venturing into a public park or onto a public sidewalk.

We hope you agree. Vape-related deaths are increasing. Are there any upsides to vaping?

There are anecdotal accounts of smokers who couldn’t quit until they used vaping to wean themselves. A recent study found that vaping helps smokers quit cigarettes, but the risk of relapse is high. Another study found that 80% of smokers who quit with the help of vaping don’t quit vaping.

Bottom line: Vaping is one of many harmful habits that regulation can’t stop completely. But if it succeeds in reducing the problem, it’s worth it. Public policy should err on the side of protecting the rights of non-vapers and the long-term health of children.

Our university systems have a sizable under-21 population to protect. Also 21 and older. The positive impact of vaping bans could be huge.

— Abilene Reporter-News

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