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Arizona Board of Regents to consider tobacco and vaping ban

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Board of Regents will consider banning the use and sale of vaping and tobacco products at the state’s three public universities.

The ban also would extend to land leased by the universities under a proposal the board will consider during a meeting in Tucson on Thursday.

Board member Fred DuVal is behind the proposal. He described vaping as “a public health hazard.”

“It’s really to drive home a very strong public point to our students that (vaping) is a bad choice,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday.

The universities already have their own tobacco and vaping policies.

Arizona State University and the University of Arizona both prohibit the use of tobacco and vaping products in vehicles and buildings owned or leased by the universities. Northern Arizona University has a similar policy prohibiting the use of tobacco and vaping products.

DuVal said he’s proposing these revisions as a way to have “a uniform and comprehensive board-level policy.”

He said he’s concerned about the growing number of lung disease cases tied to vaping.

More than 2,170 vaping related cases have been reported in the U.S. and more than 40 people have died due to vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Arizona, 14 cases have been reported, but no deaths.

Meanwhile, vaping business owners argue policies banning vaping, like the one DuVal is proposing, are targeting the wrong products.

Amanda Wheeler, executive director of the Arizona Smoke Free Business Alliance, said vaping products sold on the black market, not those sold in stores, are causing people to get lung illnesses.

“All that’s going to happen, until we deal with the real issue, is people are going to keep getting sick,” she said.

Wheeler added vaping products help people quit smoking.

DuVal pushed back, saying the notion that vaping is being sold as a vehicle to quit smoking “is completely contradicted by fact that the flavors are strawberry milk, cereal, mango and mint.”

“These are flavors that are specifically targeted to our youth, and the rate of incidents among youth reflects that it’s working,” he said.

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