BOZEMAN - With growing health concerns about the possibly deadly effects of vaping, administrators are reminding students that using tobacco products is banned on the state's biggest college campuses.
Montana State University has had a tobacco-free campus policy for the last seven years, and that ban has always included cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, and e-cigarettes.
Students don't have to look far for a reminder of the rules, with "Tobacco Free MSU" signs posted at each of the campus entrances.
While the ban can be enforced with conduct violations for repeat offenders, the university's news director, Michael Becker, says the school's strategy is not about punishing people using the products, but encouraging one another to make healthier choices.
"You know, when it comes to something like a tobacco-free campus policy, a lot of that is - of course - going to rely on peer pressure to do the healthy choice and to help regulate that [policy]," Becker added.
In Missoula, the University of Montana has the same tobacco-free campus policy.
The school added vaping products to the ban last year.
In light of the recent vaping-related deaths, school health officials say students are planning more peer education programs and events for the coming weeks.
While there are no confirmed cases of vaping-related illnesses in Montana, the state says they are looking into a number of potential cases.
With a national investigation into its possible health effects underway, Montana officials are urging residents to stop using e-cigarettes and vape pens.
That warning comes after 33 states have identified more than 400 cases of potential e-cigarette-related illnesses, with many patients suffering from the life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome.
The six known people who have died from the vaping-related illnesses were adults, and most of the illnesses are appearing in older teens and young adults.