The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

The University of Vermont's Independent Voice Since 1883

The Vermont Cynic

It’s more than a ‘drunk cig:’ cigarettes on UVM’s campus

Gillian Symolon
Some students smoke for the aesthetic.

For many UVM students, the Howe Library steps are the entrance to a space where they are tasked with completing homework. 

For others, the Howe Library steps are the place for a midday cigarette while the sun shines down on them.

UVM is a campus that is free from alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other illicit drugs, according to the Office of Compliance Services.

However, students have taken the image of the ‘drunk cig’ to the next level by seemingly smoking cigarettes at all times of the day, anywhere on campus.

“I was so surprised when I got here and so many people were smoking cigs,” said first-year Caitlin Applebee. “I was uncomfortable smoking at home. I came here and everyone was chill with it.”

Reasons why students reach for a cigarette vary. For one anonymous first-year, smoking is a great way to meet friends, they said.

“I was at rail jam and someone was looking for a cigarette. I had one in my pocket and gave it to him,” the anonymous student said.

Students may also smoke to reward themselves after a difficult class, assignment or week, treating the cigarette as a reward. This is partially due to inebriation from smoking a cigarette being temporary, compared to inebriation from alcohol or cannabis lasting for a lengthy period of time, the anonymous student said.

“If I have a test tomorrow, I am not going to smoke weed because I don’t want to be foggy. Cigarettes you can do whenever,” they said.

Another anonymous first-year said that they smoke purely for the aesthetic, suggesting cigarettes are classier than other forms of tobacco and nicotine. 

“You look sick as fuck when you smoke a cigarette,” they said.

Applebee agrees with this sentiment.

“We listen to grunge music. We won’t vape, we will smoke cigs,” Applebee said.

“Drunk cigs” have gained popularity in recent years.
(Gillian Symolon)

However, no matter the reason why students reach for a cigarette or when they do, there is a very narrow window of use before it becomes a regular habit, said Tom Fontana, drug and alcohol educator at Living Well.

“You are not messing around with aesthetics for that long before smoking becomes an issue,” Fontana said.

First-year Bridgette Martin believes smoking for the aesthetic is not a justifiable reason to smoke.

“There are so many other things that are so much cooler and have to do with your personality,” Martin said.

Smoking cigarettes leads to disease and disability, harming most systems in the human body, according to the CDC. Despite the associated health risks, students still choose to smoke cigarettes.

“My parents smoked when they were younger, and they both stopped and have no issues with it,” Applebee said. “I know what I am getting into. It is a calculated and willing risk.”

The generation of students at UVM now was almost in the clear of any tobacco and nicotine use—that is, until the JUUL came along.

“The national trend was that nicotine use was going down for decades,” Fontana said. “And then, about 10 years ago, the trend started ticking back up because of the JUUL.”

LivingWell can provide professional help for students looking to quit nicotine. (Alex Strand)

Students at UVM use JUULs and vapes, as well as Zyns too, which have smell and smoke that is easier to keep discrete, said an anonymous first-year.

“Cigarettes smell and you have to go outside to light it,” the anonymous student said. “It is harder to smoke a cigarette than vape.”

However, some students enjoy having to go outside to light a cigarette.

“I like the whole act of it—going outside and smoking and listening to music. Since if I had a vape in my hand, I would hit it 24/7,” Applebee said.

During the winter months at UVM, the cold naturally reduces students’ desire to reach for a cigarette, because having to go outside and endure the snow may not always be worth it, Applebee said.

“We go to UVM. I am already smoking other stuff. This isn’t much worse,” Applebee said.

For students struggling with an addiction to cigarettes, or zyns and vapes, there are resources available, Fontana said.

“We recognize that it is hard for students to reach out. It’s hard enough to reach out, period,” Fontana said.

The state of Vermont does provide many resources through 802Quits. The organization offers free coaching and counseling, as well as all kinds of materials and quick supplies, Fontana said.

Students can also go to Living Well in the Davis Center and talk to a professional. They also offer nicotine gum and patches available to students looking at diminished use, Fontana said.

More to Discover