SAIT considering smoking ban
SAIT is exploring the idea of banning smoking on campus.
“We’re all adults, if they want to smoke, they can smoke, but let’s figure out an area that doesn’t make non-smokers upset. That’s the ideal world for me, everybody wins,” said Alex Dimopoulos, SAITSA student president, who is pushing for designated smoking areas in place of an all-out ban.
SAITSA used HappyOrNot Pods spread throughout the campus in an effort to reach out to students, to find out how they feel about an all-out ban on campus. The survey pods were moved to a new SAIT building each day for a month.
“It’s 50/50 [opinion on banning smoking on campus], so to ban it for half of the students doesn’t make sense to me,” said Dimopoulos.
The SAITSA president presented his findings from the HappyOrNot Pod survey on Thursday, Nov. 16 to the SAIT Smoking On Campus Committee. As of Wednesday, Nov. 29 7,706 people have responded to the pods. A total of 55 per cent of respondents are strongly in favour of a smoke-free campus and 36 per cent are strongly against a smoke-free campus.
The mandate to explore the potential ban of smoking on campus was put in place by SAIT President Dr. David Ross.
The committee consists of a number of facilities and stakeholders across the campus including SAITSA, security, learning services, executives and others who are affected by this decision.
“It’s people’s decisions ultimately, as long as they respect the rules,” said Mark Fernandez, Chartwells marketing manager and non-smoker. Fernandez said that he would like to see an exclusive area for smokers so they avoid bothering non-smokers.
“It’s not illegal, so they [SAIT] can’t tell them not to have [it],” said Fernandez.
NAIT instituted new policies in 2015 to ensure a smokeless and tobacco-free campus. The ban includes e-cigarettes, smoking, vaping and chewing tobacco.
Dimopoulos said SAITSA is exploring the possibility of adding a referendum to the executive council election to ensure SAIT students have a say in the matter.
The president said the conversations generated about the ban are an indication that this is an important issue on campus for both smokers and non-smokers.
“The first thing is, don’t smoke, we should avoid it,” said Nizwe Rehman, a SAIT academic upgrading student and non-smoker. She said she was concerned that smoking could be dangerous for non-smokers and could damage the buildings at SAIT.
Rehman said she has a smoking allergy and will avoid smokers when she sees them on campus.
“Keep [smoking] away from campus,” said Rehman.
SAIT is looking to have clear policies put in place before July 1, 2018 in an effort to be prepared for cannabis legalization, said Dimopoulos. The SAITSA president is looking to collect as much data as possible before any final decisions are made in regards to SAIT making the move towards becoming a smoke-free campus. SAITSA is hoping to get more than 12,000 responses through the HappyOrNot pods by mid-January.
“It’s better to make a smoking area in a certain space,” Tim Kim, an electrical engineering student and smoker.
Kim said that where and when he smokes can vary depending on how many people he is smoking with and where he is smoking.
“That will suck. I’ll probably find a way to smoke, or smoke less,” said Kim.
SAIT is continuing to gather and compile research on the matter and considers the matter to be in the early stages of planning. No decisions have been reached yet on the potential ban of smoking on campus.
“We’re not saying you should smoke or smoking’s ok,” said Dimopoulos.
“We’re just saying, as an adult, you have the choice to have a smoke or not. You’re responsible for your health so why does the school have to tell you how to live your life?”