Fum U of R’s 100 per cent smoke-free campus

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author: ziggy butz | contributor


 jeremy davis

It seems a bit preachy for the university to impose zero tolerance on smoking on campus grounds. There is always some kind of harsh prejudice against smokers, whether you look online at the U of R Confessions Facebook page posts, or at conversations in real life about the habit.  

However, it is not difficult to understand why smokers are so vilified in society. For the few of my friends who smoke, they are fully aware that their habit is ultimately sabotaging not only their health, but also the health of those around them. Most of them feel worse than how a plus-sized person might feel if people glared at them for eating a doughnut. Banning a product from being used in a particular area does not necessarily stop anyone from partaking in their habits. For example, whenever I go to the education building roof for some alone time during spares, I never cease to find a scattering of cigarette butts, leading from near the green metal benches to in front of the door to the second floor. I recall a peer of mine saying something along the lines of, “The 100 per cent smoke-free campus will never work. People are going to do it anyway.”  

For those who have health concerns regarding second-hand smoking, the related problems and symptoms can easily be avoided if the specifically designated smoking areas were relocated. Maybe we could even introduce separate glass rooms for people vaping to wean off of cigarettes as well as for those who still wish to use tobacco products. This could much more easily be done if the university’s money was not wasted on trivial items like million-dollar signs. As a person with asthma, I personally would not care if the outdoor smoking areas were reopened, as I do not necessarily spend time or feel the need to cross paths with places like the classroom building courtyards or the Research and Innovation Centre doors.  

It is understandable that pregnant individuals, people with children or those with respiratory issues will feel safer in a smoke-free campus, but they are relying on the assumption that 100 per cent of those who smoke will refrain from doing so. Not only that, but the old designated smoking areas from prior years already existed so that individuals from more vulnerable demographics would not be exposed to any smoke unless they deliberately searched for it. It is a lot more troublesome for someone who smokes to leave campus just to indulge themselves than it is for a person to take a different route to a class or to just stay inside when passing by the smoking areas.  

People reading this article may be questioning my intentions, as it may seem I am vehemently defending smokers’ rights at the risk of the health and well-being of the general population. That being said, there may be a larger, hidden agenda here at hand.  

It’s possible that the University of Regina is merely preparing for cannabis legalization. Perhaps our campus wants to keep up some kind of reputation, so that the university is not viewed as a party school. But even that argument does not necessarily make sense. By that logic, The Lazy Owl would be frowned upon for existing on campus. After all, many students need to let loose and grab a drink or two after their abysmal midterms or finals.   

Either way, even if the campus maintains zero-tolerance toward smokers, certain individuals will smoke despite the possibility of being caught and charged a fine. Addicts do not care. It is clear that this ban is a tactic for the university to suck more money out of students through these fines. Maybe I am wearing a tin-foil hat, but it is difficult to believe this campus cares about the well-being of all students when most of the places to purchase meals are fast-food and not anything like healthy, home-cooked meals.  

There is one more thing I must admit for my motivation for writing this article. There is a social aspect to smoking, where people who share the same addictions will often congregate on their smoke breaks. This issue is personal to me, as I have mentioned before; a few people that I care about still consume tobacco products, or e-cigarettes. I do not see them as often anymore now that this ban has been in effect. It may sound silly, as I could talk to these individuals in person or via text to spend time with them. But in a twisted-up way, I feel good when I see people smoking. It reassures me that we are all human and give in to certain temptations from time to time, especially in high-stress environments such as university.  

Even the first time I saw someone smoking before a Physics 201 final, it was not until my third year of university. He stood in front of the cement wall just outside of the Kinesiology Building, as his final was in Gym 2. I asked him how he felt about his upcoming exam. He was not in the greatest mood as this particular class did not give formula sheets, so he had to spend a lot of time memorizing all the formulas that were introduced throughout the semester. I say, let these stressed-out people have their sweet cancer sticks. Our courses are killing us anyway. What on earth is wrong with us having the gumption to do it ourselves in a somewhat more glamourous fashion?

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