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Smoking on campus

So I’ll admit, at one time I fully supported the smoking ban on campus.

That’s not to say I don’t support the idea now, but it is clear that the way the ban has been implemented is not effective in the least. At first, I would have blamed this ineffectiveness on the smokers who walk around campus while smoking, blatantly defying the new ban that forced them into ‘designated smoking areas’ around campus. Not to mention I don’t have much sympathy for people who smoke. I understand it’s an addiction, but a lot of people manage to quit. There are lots of programs in place to lend support, and expensive nicotine patches and gum you can buy to ease the cravings. Why people still choose to smoke baffles me, but hey, to each their own.

But my misunderstanding of smokers is not why I am writing this article. It is to question the effectiveness of the smoking ban.

First, there is no enforcement. The people that implemented the plan had no real strategy to enforce it, besides hoping that non-smokers would shame smokers into standing in designated smoking areas. I can only imagine how such a conversation would go:   

Student one: (Looking like a dweeb) Hey, would you mind smoking in a designated smoking area?

Student two: (Exasperated) Screw that, this is a free country. I’ll smoke where I want.

I don’t mean to generalize all smokers as rude, because they aren’t. It’s just that who can be bothered to find a marked smoking area when they have to run to a class or if they are taking a quick break? I know I would probably ignore the smoking ban if I smoked, and I would react like student two from the above example. But despite this poor system of enforcement, this is not the greatest failing by a long shot. That would have to be the location of the smoking areas.

If you haven’t seen them or smelled them, you obviously don’t go outside very often. Sure, it’s great that they were moved at least six feet from doorways, but unfortunately, they were left on the main paths. During the fall and spring, people could walk around on the grass to avoid the smoke, but with the lovely confines of a foot of snow, people need to stay on the cleared path. This means that instead of walking through a cloud of smoke as I enter the door, I now walk through it ten seconds before I make it to the door. So, as you can see, I am still inhaling all the carcinogens; the only difference now is that smokers had to walk a little further before they lit up. 

Most importantly, I discovered that smokers are human beings with feelings. They are having a tough day, they are taking a break to relieve some stress in the way that they want to, and it just so happens that their once socially applauded activity (we’ve all seen pictures of a doctor smoking a cigarette while examining a pregnant woman) is now frowned upon and oppressed. 

I would honestly prefer it if smokers only smoked while walking around between classes. The smoke smell is way less obvious this way. The only problem with this is when the butts are just dropped wherever. This makes a mess, it looks terrible, and it’s disgusting. I remember last year it was especially bad around doors with snow banks, which were very convenient for putting out cigarettes. A quick flick of the fingers and the snow took care of cigarette butts. Unfortunately, come spring time, there is a giant, ugly, gross pile of cigarette butts left sitting in a soggy pile where a snow bank once was.

So I propose a deal: Smokers, you can smoke wherever you want to outside. It’s obvious the designated smoking areas are not going to save me from having to walk through a cloud of smoke when I enter the university, so I don’t expect you to stand in them to smoke your cigarettes. In return, I would like you to stop throwing your cigarette butts all over campus. Use the ashtrays. If the ashtrays are full, use them anyway and then find some administrator to complain to about getting them cleaned out more often. I think this is a reasonable compromise.

The smoking ban might as well be repealed. It is not changing anything on campus. Those that smoke are made more stubborn in their resistance to quitting, and those that don’t smoke are not getting any benefit out of the ban. The initiative has failed. It’s time to tear it down and move on.

Edward Dodd
Contributor

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3 comments

  1. I'm a student at Carleton University in Ottawa. I remember that until the fall of 2008, smoking was restricted everywhere on campus except in designated smoking areas. People blatantly ignored the ban, and even took to smoking in the bathrooms where you are less likely to get caught red handed by campus police. It was a complete failure, and the university repealed the ban, and took to the extreme of placing ashtrays everywhere, within feet of each other around buildings, and adding ashtray tops to all the garbage cans. I think the new approach has worked wonderfully, now that smokers no longer feel ostracised, can smoke anywhere they want outdoors, and are well provided with ashtrays, they no longer litter their butts and are much more considerate of the needs of non-smokers. I feel that civility can bring us to a compromise we can all live with, honestly, you can't expect smokers to spend all day at a sprawling campus without having a smoke.

  2. I want to support smokers, I really do. People should be able to do what they want. That being said, there was a fire started by a cigarette butt in front of the Riddel center about 2 or 3 years ago. If it wasn't for a guy I was working with at the time quickly putting it out, there would have been serious damage. There were 2 ashtrays on either side od the bushes that started on fire. The ground was covered in cigarette butts. This basically illustrates that smokers are dicks. So, smokers, if you weren't such dicks, everyone wouldn't feel a need to do all these smoking bans.