The provincial government has pushed forwarded tougher policies to smoking laws here in Ontario. How this will affect the student life on campus is up for debate as campus officials say it’s a challenge to enforce smoking policies here.
On Jan. 1, 2015, the Ontario government created a new provincial law that has eliminated smoking from areas such as bar patios and sporting events as well as the purchasing of tobacco products on campus grounds.
Since then, many smokers at Durham College and UOIT have obeyed the law but some have found loopholes where they can continue smoking, according to Katherine Lazenby, the director of Campus Health Centre.
But Lazenby says change can’t happen too quickly as it would cause a blowback from the students. She says it needs to happen gradually.
“I think peer pressure, I think society, I think giving someone a dirty look would be OK,” said Lazenby. “But even our security guards who are here, if you were going up to some student, what would you say? Hey, give me your student number. I want to report you. You know what they get? The finger.”
Changes such as the end of indoor smoking to smoke huts, and recently the ban of tobacco products on campus, have taken years to accomplish. Lazenby says any future measures to restrict smokers will take awhile but she is hopeful it will happen in the near future.
Many students at Durham College and UOIT who take buses are often the victims of second-hand smoke while waiting.
The campus policy on smoking states, “Smokers are required by law to remain 30 feet (10 metres) away from all entranceways.” Yet some cigarette dispensers are placed next to entranceways, inside the 10-metre limit and right next to three of the busiest bus stops.
Campuses health and safety officer, Dave Rogers, says the solution of moving the containers away from non-smokers harm is beyond the staff’s control. “How do you suppose those cigarette containers got that close to the door? They get moved,” said Rogers. “Every year, they’re moved somewhere else, typically over the summer when the weather’s more convenient to do so. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to fix them because you end up defacing property, so they end up magically getting moved back.”
He says the current bylaws are adopted from the city and then applied to the smoking policies here at the campus. He says the way the bylaws are written has made it difficult to enforce these smoking areas properly. The campus must have a designated bylaw enforcement officer to deal with those issues but no campus staff has that status.
“The way that we enforce it is that we encourage anybody that’s on our campus to remind smokers that they are supposed to be outside the 10-metre zone and, for the most part, my experience has been that they will respect that for as long as you are there.”
But what about the possibility of creating our own policies here at the campus?
“It’s possible to make our own policies. The question is whether or not, one, they be enforceable or, two, they actually be legal documents, depending on who has the jurisdictions over it,” says Rogers.
Rogers says the question of whether students have a right to smoke or whether non-smokers’ rights outweigh that has never been properly been answered.
Oshawa city councillor Amy England, vice-president for the city’s committee of Health and Safety said the best way to battle these concerns is to implement a respect policy.
“The only way around it is like a respect program with students. If students respected each other then and courteous to other people around them you might not need to worry about enforcing anything.”
On the areas such as the bus stop, the councillor doesn’t think it’s impossible.
“If you give them sitting and you give them shelter, they’ll go,” said England.