This smoking ban is absurd

Liam David Photo credit: Piri Sinnathurai

Durham College’s smoking ban is absurd, discriminatory and pointless. It does not discourage smoking, it merely forces smokers into more difficult circumstances by treating addiction as a moral failing instead of the health issue it is.

The smoking ban stands in contravention to the college’s own stated goals to help students.

Effective October 2018, smoking cigarettes, marijuana and vapor was banned on Durham College and Ontario Tech University campuses. This was a unilateral decision, announced out of the blue by president Don Lovisa in the wake of the Ontario Government’s announcement that marijuana would be permitted anywhere one can smoke. Overnight, students were expected to leave campus every time they needed to spark up.

The reasons why are understandable. Second-hand smoke is very dangerous. People can’t smell like weed because they walked through a cloud. Often smokers were too close to doors and common areas.

But the school should have just restricted it. Isolate areas of the school as smoking areas: areas like the perfectly fine, perfectly central, perfectly empty gazebo in the courtyard.

But no. Smokers have to truck out to the road or the path between campus and Dalhousie Cr., taking upwards of five minutes to get there from the Pit. From the rear of the Gordon Willey Building this takes 10 to 15 minutes. Student only get 10 minutes between classes. The math isn’t hard.

The ban beyond campus imposes yet another challenge on an already stretched-thin student body.

Now there’s an argument this will discourage smoking. That’s absurd. Smoking is an addiction. People can’t turn it off because it makes their life hard.

Smokers who can’t afford smokes bum them from others, even pick butts up off the ground for that little hit of nicotine. Repeated studies by organizations like the British Journal of Addiction, have found nicotine to be among the most addictive substances known to humanity. Sure, making people walk further, and stand exposed in the rain and sleet will make people stop. Brilliant.

This belies the next issue, there’s no shelter. Anywhere. Schools are already a cesspool of germs and bacteria ready to infect the student body and throw off their studies. Smokers have a suppressed immune system already. Smokers get sick easier, and it takes longer to recover. They still don’t stop, because it’s an addiction.

The school does have resources to help people quit. Campus Health can set you up with a doctor. They have gum, and patches to cut down. That said, students have enough on their plate already between an avalanche of assignments, ongoing mid-term season, trying to work hold down a job and have some semblance of a social life, the last thing students need to go through in the midst of the stress is quitting smoking.

Even if the smoking ban does encourage some to quit, those students would still have to grapple with nicotine withdrawal.

Side-effects of nicotine withdrawal include intense cravings, tingling limbs, profuse sweating, nausea, constipation, headaches, coughing, sore throat, insomnia, difficulty focusing, anxiety, irritability, depression and weight gain. This list is the last thing a student should be forced to go through to while attending college.

Nicotine use should not be punished and stigmatized by bans. These blanket “solutions” cause far more harm than good.

Students need assistance, not alienation.