With legal pot on the horizon, SAIT ponders campus ban on smoking

SAIT is asking staff members whether they favour making the campus smoke-free next year.

The institute’s marketing research department on Monday, Dec. 4 emailed an online survey to staff, asking whether SAIT should go to a full, or partial ban on smoking, or continue with the current policy of allowing smoking outdoors.

Recipients were given until Dec. 15 to respond to the survey, which comes just months before the planned legalization of marijuana takes effect across the country.

The SAIT survey makes no direct reference marijuana, or to the legalization plan, which is to kick in next year.

Earlier this fall, SAITSA introduced an informal survey of a possible smoking ban, a proposal which has triggered controversy among students.

SAITSA placed automated voting stations in different campus buildings to gauge students’ opinions.

“I want to see what the students want,” SAITSA presdient Alex Dimopoulos said in an earlier interview.

While SAITSA has been collecting information on a possible ban, Dimopoulos said a decision will be up to SAIT, not the student association.

Dimopoulos said that if SAIT becomes smoke-free, the ban would most likely include all kinds of smoke including that of cigarettes, marijuana and vapes.

None of these things would be allowed on campus, which would mean people would have to leave the campus in order to smoke.

The possibility of a smoke-free campus has upset some of the SAIT community, as the campus rolls toward July 1, 2018, when marijuana is expected to be legalized in Canada.

“I don’t think smoking should be banned at SAIT,” said student Christine Ritchie.

She said she knows people who do smoke and sees how much it helps them de-stress even though she doesn’t smoke herself.

Ritchie also just enjoys being with her friends and spending time together.

“It’s just fun to hang out while they’re on their smoke break,” she said.

Ritchie said she knows people who can’t concentrate if they haven’t smoked a cigarette in a while.

She also said it wouldn’t be very convenient for smokers who live in residence at SAIT.

“They’d have to go out of their way to have a smoke instead of just walking outside,” said Ritchie.

Other people, such as SAIT student Erin Day, think that SAIT should be smoke-free.

“Students don’t respect other students space when it comes to smoking and a ban could fix that,” said Day.

Smokers make it difficult for Day to navigate the campus comfortably.

She said smoke can bother non-smokers and make them sick or uncomfortable, herself included.

Day thinks there should be a ban, or at least stricter regulations.

When people smoke outside of designated smoking areas (eg. close to the building doors), Day runs into problems because of how sick she feels as a result of the smoke.

“SAIT being a smoke-free campus would dispel a lot of my worries about having to miss class because someone was smoking carelessly,” said Day.

She said that it would make her, and likely other students, commute across campus a lot smoother.

The decision on whether SAIT goes smoke-free won’t be made until next year. A committee has been struck to consider the issue, and other questions related to marijuana use on campus.

Dimopoulos doesn’t think that smoking should be banned altogether because some people cope with stress by using pot, and it is often used for medical reasons.

“There has to be a compromise,” Dimopoulos said.

He wants to maintain the designated smoking areas that are currently on campus but also wants strict enforcement in those areas.

Day thinks that marijuana should be treated and regulated just like tobacco on campus, even if SAIT isn’t smoke-free by next year.

“Not everyone has a good relationship with marijuana, so I believe that it should be regulated just as much as tobacco,” he said.

There has to be a compromise. – Alex Dimopoulos

Dimopoulos said that if anyone has questions to contact him at his email at saitsa.president@edu.sait.ca.

 

About Shaun Fisk 4 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Shaun Fisk worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2017-18 academic year.

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