left out in the rain

Zac Starke dives into the ambiguity surrounding Dawson smoking regulations and the reason why students are sometimes left in the rain to smoke.

 


The rain pounds against the shallow asphalt of de Maisonneuve, as shadows of Dawson College’s ever-ominous presence overlook the boulevard. Students purge out of the doors after their most recent classes to enjoy a certain dirty, little pleasure and then take refuge from the rain’s assault under the narrow eaves of the school’s entrance. They fumble to retrieve lighters and ignite their cigarettes, only to utter common sighs of discontent as security approaches. Suddenly the mob stumbles into the street as they come face to face with the unfortunate prospects of the rain’s fury.

“I understand the rules, and I agree with them, but it’s wrong after we get all these new taxes and laws against smoking that we either have to run to one of those hut-things all the way at the other end of the school, or stand in the rain and get sick.”

By law, no pedestrian, student, teacher, parent, or other is permitted to smoke within nine meters of school entrances, a rule that proves to not sit well with certain members of the Dawson College community.

“I respect the idea of the school’s blue line,” said Doug Paquette, a first semester student in Social Sciences, on a similar morning. “ I just can’t take standing in the rain, or running to a gazebo half way around the school to have a quick smoke before class, if it’s raining outside, it’s ridiculous. Student and faculty smokers make many adjustments for the college’s anti-smoking regulations, but feel some dissatisfaction as to how Dawson enforces those rules, for example being left out in the rain. Anyone can sympathize with hopes to keep dry on brisk, fall days, or so it seems. Non-smokers appear mostly un-sympathetic to the position smokers are put in on such days, some students even believe the college’s regulations on smoking aren’t firm enough. Another important factor that comes into play is the school’s apparent lack of effort in properly educating new students on the smoking regulations.

To be put mildly, student smokers and faculty alike grow ever more tired of the conditions they must face each day, especially if there is a downpour. Eighteen of 25 Dawson College smokers surveyed on MIO (Messaging in Omnivox) seem willing to abide by the rules, but are uneasy at the fact that they make all of the adjustments to the rules, yet no adjustments appear to be readily made for them. “Yeah, I know it’s bad to smoke, but if you’re addicted, you’re addicted!” said a second year student who wishes to remain anonymous to keep her family from discovering she is a smoker. “I understand the rules, and I agree with them, but it’s wrong after we get all these new taxes and laws against smoking that we either have to run to one of those hut-things all the way at the other end of the school, or stand in the rain and get sick.” Her eyes lit up fiercely as she recalled all the instances where she did in fact catch a cold. While other students consider these rules and shortcomings as excuses to finally quit the habit, the consensus among smokers stands that the school should at least make some accommodations to smokers, for instance more gazebos around the school.

However, non-smokers do not see eye-to-eye with their smoker counterparts. In fact, the consensus amongst this group seems to be that the rules are not strict enough on smokers, and the school should enforce the laws much more harshly in order to sway smokers into quitting. In a similar survey done of 25 non-smokers on MIO, 22 of the interviewees harbour similar thoughts on the matter, all 10 believe if someone wishes to smoke, they should “reap what they sow, and stand in the rain to puff on their cancer-sticks,” as Rhea Bisaillon said, a Dawson College student.

While some students and faculty believe the rules are not firm enough, others have no clue as to what the terms of conduct regarding smoking are, until after they are in school. Most new students are not properly informed about the rules and even sometimes receive fines at the de Maisonneuve entrance for smoking within the non-smoking perimeter. Most are unaware of the true borders to the non-smoking area, as it still has yet to receive the easily recognizable blue line, which persist at every other entrance of the college. Though some rules remain unclear to most students, smokers and non-smokers alike, no student interviewed feels security is doing a decent job. When requested for interviews, comments, regulations, or information that pertains to smoking at Dawson College, all are coldly declined and un-obliged by security personnel.

“I respect the idea of the school’s blue line,” said Doug Paquette, a first semester student in Social Sciences, on a similar morning. “I just can’t take standing in the rain, or running to a gazebo half way around the school to have a quick smoke before class if it’s raining outside, it’s
ridiculous.”

Dismay is a sentiment which both sides of the smoker and non-smoker Dawson community empathize along the fence in regards to revelations of the school’s apparent inability to properly inform smokers of the rules. Even through all the fog of uncertainty and shortcomings presented by smoking laws, the smoking community at Dawson simply wishes that the college, or province for that matter, will make some headway in outfitting extra smoking huts around the school to shield their weary bodies from torrents of rain when those gloomy days are in the forecast. Although smokers are aware of how smoking affects their bodies as well as their long-term health, they concur it is a freedom of choice, a negative one be that as it may, nonetheless a liberty they don’t mind the Quebec CEGEP imposing on so long as the college takes some sympathy that others do not.
Even if such anti-smoking regulations are put in place for the overall well-being of the Dawson Community, the majority of smokers surveyed melancholically anticipate the day that they can smoke in peace on a chilled, rain slicked day.
The light of day becomes shadows while the moon, once again, starts to hang itself in the sky and the populace files out from the crowded doorways. The portion of smokers identify themselves with the signature chik chik of their lighters as they fire up their cigarettes. They take quick draws, toss aside the remainder of the cigarettes, almost in unison, and vacate the area, leaving behind only the butts of their cigarettes to signify that they were there. Lingering for days to come are the cigarettes’ remains, littering the streets just like the members of the Dawson College Community who wish to smoke them.

One might say the smokers are within reason because expectations on them to abide by new anti-smoking regulations go on without incentive. Even though such laws are put in place to benefit the over-all population of the college, they only seem to continuously diminish the rights of a smoker. If proper incentive were to be given, such as a few extra “huts,” the population of satisfied students would grow to include the entire student body, rather than only the non-smokers.

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