All Posts Tagged With: "tobacco"
Where smoking is outlawed it does more harm than good
Students at the University of Prince Edward Island are pushing to ban smoking on campus. Cigarettes, they say, are not only deadly for the poor schmucks who choose to light up but also harmful to the non-smoking citizens forced to walk through their carcinogenic clouds. The student union, reasonably enough, wants a plebiscite.
I’m not a smoker. I think unwanted cigarette smoke is annoying and gross. Ontario’s government must have polling showing many people feel the same way or they wouldn’t have, just yesterday, banned smoking outside at restaurants and bars. I can think of more useful things for the province to do (for example, working on the deficit) but research has shown that smoke doesn’t easily dissipate outside on patios when people are sitting so at least there’s science behind the policy.
But that’s as far as it should go. Campus-wide bans are pointless, draconian and unnecessary.
An environmentalist argues in favour of divestment
Torrance Coste studied conservation geography at the University of Victoria before becoming a Vancouver Island Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee. He argues that universities should exit investments from companies he considers unethical, like those in fossil fuels. After reading his piece, check out Professor Todd Pettigrew’s argument that divestment is unrealistic.
While the debate around fossil fuel development and climate change intensifies in Canada, there is an effort emerging to hit the perpetrators of this global environmental disaster where it hurts—the bank account. The premise is simple: pressure post-secondary institutions to stop investing—or divest—money from companies in fossil fuel and other environmentally and socially destructive industries.
The call has been sounded through the Go Fossil Free campaign, an initiative of 350.org, a U.S.-based organization that fights climate change. Recently, a group of Canadian university graduates have petitioned Maclean’s to include an “ethical investment” category in its highly regarded annual university rankings.
Prof. Pettigrew on why universities can’t divest
Here, Cape Breton University Professor Todd Pettigrew argues that divesting from “unethical” companies isn’t as easy as activists make it sound. After reading his commentary, check out Torrance Coste’s argument in favour of divestment.
I served, for a brief time, on the Board of Governors of Cape Breton University, and one thing I did during that period was speak in favour of looking into ethical investments. After all, we know from the proverbs that money talks. So if we are talking with our money, why not have it say something important?
Ethical investing, I argued at the time, seemed all the more urgent in the context of university education. If we are trying to teach our students to think critically, shouldn’t we ask tough questions about scholarship endowments and pension funds? Should we give scholarship funds to a student studying, let’s say, social justice, and then tell that student not to worry where that money came from?
Puritan approach causes more problems than it solves
Memorial University, it seems, is edging towards becoming the next Canadian university to ban smoking entirely on its campus.
It’s easy to see why such a ban would be tempting and why other universities have gone in that direction, as my fellow commentator Ravanne Lawday explains here. Smoking poses well-known health hazards to smokers and bystanders alike. Smokers typically leave behind cigarette butts, which sullies the campus. And most universities these days have day cares, so campus smokers set a bad example for the kids.
On the other hand, a total or near-total smoking ban seems likely to cause as many problems as it solves.
Current policies do enough to protect non-smokers
Every student has some way of relieving stress during final exams. Just imagine for a moment that your relaxation method is suddenly prohibited.
That is the dilemma now faced by smokers at the University of Alberta if a new policy introduced by a select group of University of Alberta Students’ Union councillors goes ahead (it has already passed the first reading). The policy would restrict on-campus smoking to remote areas of university property called “health promoting areas.”
Marine Institute ban effective immediately
Memorial University plans to ban smoking entirely by 2013, citing health concerns about second-hand smoke.
“Restricting smoking to designated areas will help make Memorial University’s campuses healthier places to live, study and work,” school officials wrote in a statement.
The Board of Regents approved a new smoking policy on July 7 that bans smoking near doorways as of Aug. 1. and compels smokers in residences to use designated areas only.
Smoking is no longer permitted anywhere on the Marine Institute’s property.
Graphic labels won’t deter young smokers, nor motivate those already addicted to quit
The cat was out of the bag over 50 years ago.
Despite a Marlboro on every lip and A Frank Statement proclaiming the safety of the product, people were beginning to catch on—inhaling tar and chemicals was bad for you.
It’s curious, then, especially as we approach 2011, why federal leaders believe it important to shock that reality back into us. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has unveiled a series of 16 new warning labels for cigarette packages that are bigger and more graphic than previous labels, just in case you haven’t been getting the message.
Aglukkaq hopes the new warnings, which cost almost $4 million to develop, will motivate existing smokers to kick the habit and deter new smokers from picking it up. The goal is to get people to “stop and think” before they light up, Aglukkaq said Thursday.
Surely those youths motivated by peer pressure, beer, or rebelliousness will suddenly resort to reason and thoughtfulness when confronted by the new labels, right? I can hear the gasps already: “You mean smoking is not good for me? Geez, well just pass me the mickey, then.” Trends show that kids are already less interested in picking up the pack than they were 10 years ago, so some are undoubtedly getting the message. Plus, since the old labels would be new to young people taking their first puffs anyhow, these revamped warning signs will be little more than expensive wrapping paper to the young target.
And the addicted smokers? They persist because they’re addicted, not because they don’t know cigarettes are bad for you. If some smokers are unable to quit despite the loss of a loved one, pressure from children, or a critical diagnosis, a few government-solicited images won’t magically do the trick, disturbing as they may be. The government’s money would be more effectively used to subsidize stop-smoking aids or resource centers for those hoping to quit. Yet this softball lob is just enough to quiet the anti-smoking lobby while not too seriously threatening the government’s haul of tobacco taxes.
The new cigarette warning labels may evoke some first-glance discomfort, but will likely fade into packaging after the first drag.
-Photo by Nerissa’s Ring