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Executive Corner: Smoking on campus

Alex Dimopoulos, SAITSA President, talks about students' mixed feelings on smoking on campus. Dimopoulos gets out on campus and talks to students to hear first-hand what their concerns are, and how he can make a difference that will clear the air.

Alex Dimopoulos, SAITSA President, talks about students’ mixed feelings on smoking on campus. Dimopoulos is on a mission to talk to students and hear first-hand what their concerns are, and how he can make a difference that will help clear the air.

Smoking on campus is an issue that I believe needs to be talked about on campus this year. There are mixed feeling on what should happen to smoking on SAIT campuses. By law, smokers are to be 10 metres away from doorways when smoking and absolutely no smoking inside buildings. For some smokers it seems that the rule of 10 metres away from doors is not being followed. This causes problems with non- smokers. 

This is where the conversation starts; smokers want to smoke on their limited break between classes but non-smokers do not want to walk through a cloud of second-hand smoke when leaving a building. SAIT has said that something needs to be done to accommodate both sides.

This year is supposed to be the year that Canada sees the legalization of marijuana. This will also present a significant amount of challenges for SAIT when talking about smoking on campus. The first one will be with accommodating for students and staff with medical prescriptions for their health. SAITSA has also added a smoking cessation benefit to the student plan for people who are looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Smoking cessation is the process that helps people discontinue tobacco smoking.

SAIT is inquiring information on how to ban all forms of smoking on campus. There have been complaints by stakeholders in the SAIT community about doors in The Aldred Centre and Thomas Riley Building. These locations have not seen smokers respect the 10 metre rule which subjects non-smokers to walking through clouds of smoke. If smokers want to have a space close to campus to smoke there has to be some conscious effort by smokers to move away from where people are walking. 

Currently I am looking to acquire feedback on what SAIT students think about smoking on campus. I want to have the right information when talking about what students want. I believe that smokers will want to keep smoking for their free time between classes, lunch/ dinner breaks and when at the pub. At the same time non-smokers want to see it banned for their health and for others around them. Also the smell of tobacco smoke is a real turn off for a lot of students and can affect their mood. 

In my opinion, I think that smoking on campus should not be banned. I think that smoking should be moved from around doorways all together but have assigned spots further than 10 metres away.  A full ban would not work that well as we have a lot of students who smoke. A ban will cause students to go to surrounding roads by SAIT to smoke a dart. This will cause those students extra time on their breaks and potentially make them late for class. I do not think that this will make the best experience for those students. The best solution would be to not ban smoking but make smoking areas further away from the doors and have security enforce the smoking zones. 

Smoking on campus is something that used to be allowed in classrooms 50 years ago. I find this to be mind blowing considering the current society we live in. I cannot imagine being in class with an instructor who has a cigarette hanging out their mouth and the ability for students to have a smoke mid-lecture. This is not the world we live in now and is proof that society can adapt to a change. 

Students do not want to smell smoke from simply walking from building to building. Also students want to have the ability to have a smoke break on campus. These are two aspects of student life that should be talked about at SAIT.  If this is something you want to advocate on please send me an email to saitsa.president@edu.sait.ca. I want to know what you think and want to have your voice heard.

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