UVic’s smoking policy and you

Op-eds Opinions

You’re on your way to the Cornett building. You’re rushing, because you’re not exactly sure where that office is, and it’s a maze in that building at best. You round the corner by the McPherson Library and WHAM! A smell like someone’s thrown a dustpan of ashes in your face. You groan; cigarette smoke gives you headaches. You scan the people in front of you, some mingling, some walking, others rushing around, and spot the person smoking in front of you, walking in the same direction. They emit another puff of smoke, which curls into the air, propelled by the light wind blowing toward you.

In this moment, you have three options:

  1. Do nothing. Continue on your way. Follow in their footsteps for the duration their trip mirrors yours. Hope the headache doesn’t get too bad. Do not think about the ample research showing that second-hand smoke is carcinogenic. It’s nothing to get anxious over;
  2. Change your route. Step off the pathway and get out of the way of the smoke. Watch out for other people who may be doing the same;
  3. Skip a couple steps ahead and tap the person on the shoulder; say, “Excuse me. I don’t know if you’re aware, but we have a smoking policy on campus which asks that all people who choose to smoke do so at designated smoking areas. The nearest one to you is on the other side of the library, outside the Ring. I would really appreciate it if you consider that next time. Thanks!”

Today, the Smoking Policy Awareness Team asks you to consider option three. You may not be someone whose headaches get triggered by second-hand smoke; however, we urge you to become part of the community helping to make the University of Victoria a place where people’s health won’t be compromised. UVic’s smoking policy is short and sweet: no smoking inside Ring Road. Those choosing to smoke may use any of 15 designated smoking areas (DSAs) outside of Ring Road. All are, at most, a three minute walk or 300 metres from any building inside Ring Road.  A map of the sites can be found at uvic.ca/smoking.

Late last semester, the Awareness Team conducted a survey including 250 participants. The results indicated that over 75 per cent of those people knew about the policy on campus. Word of mouth was reported as one of the most effective methods of spreading awareness on the policy. During our rounds in the fall, we encountered many people using the DSAs; however, we also observed many people not using them.

We have an aware community. Now we need to turn that into an action-oriented community, to really make the smoking policy a success. The importance of having that 30-second conversation cannot be overstated. Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s chief medical officer, submitted evidence to the Capital Regional District (CRD) that comprised the basis for the CRD’s decision to extend the ban on smoking in public spaces in Greater Victoria. It shows that there is no safe exposure to second-hand smoke. The research is clear: smoking is detrimental to the health of both smokers and passersby. In light of this, it makes sense for a research institution like UVic to follow the evidence, as well as set itself up as a leader, by encouraging healthy practices for its community.

We need a community that is comfortable to ask and have those who choose to smoke plan for the time and place to smoke, just as people who choose to drive cars need to plan to find parking and pay for their ticket. The “parking spots” for people who choose to smoke are the designated smoking areas on campus.