Smoking Litter on Campus

The Carillon recently talked about the non-smoking campus policy. Mr. Dodd wrote a semi-convincing op-ed on why the “designated smoking areas” are a failure thus far. I’m going to reiterate some of his points, and provide an alternate solution to help non-smokers (Pink-lungs) avoid second-hand smoke while getting an education at the University of Regina.

First [problem], there is no enforcement. The people that implemented the plan had no real strategy to enforce it, besides hoping that non-smokers would shame smokers into standing in designated smoking areas. I can only imagine how such a conversation would go:

Student one: (Looking like a dweeb) Hey, would you mind smoking in a designated smoking area?

Student two: (Exasperated) Screw that, this is a free country. I’ll smoke where I want.

Dodd’s got a point. I tested his theory twice in December. One couple smoking in front of the RC doors to which I politely said, “Hi, The smoking area is over by those benches now,” looked a little embarrassed and moved. A guy a few days later, about to light up, I did the same thing to and he snapped back, “I was just lighting up!” so I walked away briskly since there’s no point in arguing with someone who doesn’t realize that the reason I was asking him to obey the rule was because he was in the process of lighting up outside of an area where non-smokers shouldn’t be expected to hold their breath (or their tongue).

Clearly there needs to be a little enforcement of this campus policy if we expect it to succeed. Otherwise the result will be that non-smokers need to hold their breath as they pass the smoking areas on the main pathways outside, downwind from smokers walking around with their lit cigarettes, and at the doors as some stalwarts stubbornly shirk smoking policy. It’s simply spreading around the problem for us Pink-lungs.

One minor quibble I have with Dodd’s suggestion that some students smoke because it was a once lauded healthy activity. There are few faculty, and fewer students who were even alive in a time when smoking was completely acceptable and a majority did it. He’s closer to the mark when he says he doesn’t have much sympathy for smokers when so many have managed to quit or avoid it, and there are nicotine replacements available at a similar cost to cigarettes.


And Dodd hits upon my solution to this policy enforcement problem, even if he didn’t totally recognize it as such. The City of Regina has a By-law regarding litter. I’ve told people for years that the majority of litter (in number of instances, not volume) I see, is from smokers. Empty packs, wrappers, lighters, matches, and of course the despised cigarette butt. Simply enforce smoking waste as being the litter that it is, and you’ll not only reduce the number of accidental smoking related fires each year, but you’ll have a cleaner and less smoky city.

Then the policy could be scrapped as some people may feel it should be. And the UofR need only position their ashtrays where smoking is acceptable, and hand out litter tickets as required.

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