June 21, 2024

With winter finally here to stay, it seems students lighting up a cigarette near Conestoga’s entranceways are migrating closer and closer to the doors.
It is legal to smoke cigarettes, and indeed every Canadian is entitled to do as they please within the means of the law.
However, where is the line of personal freedom drawn? Is it not unfair that someone who chooses not to smoke cigarettes has to inhale the second-hand smoke from someone who chooses to light up near a doorway?
“I personally think it’s disgusting,” said Justin Finnegan, a second-year integrated telecommunications and computer technologies student at the college. A smoker himself, he is still aggravated when he has to pass through another person’s exhale when he enters the school.
“I’m slightly a germaphobe … cigarette smoke smells disgusting, even though I smoke,” said Finnegan. “When it seeps inside the doors it’s nasty.”
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act states that “no person shall smoke or hold lighted tobacco in a school.” This includes but is not limited to any common areas. The legislation mainly covers indoor public places in schools, including hallways, cafeterias and residence buildings; however, it extends to entrances of colleges and universities as well. Signs depicting the prohibition of smoking in certain areas are required by law, and it is the responsibility of the proprietor to ensure that people comply. This is extended to ensuring that anyone who disregards the signs and warnings is removed from that location.  Safety and Security Services at the college is in charge of enforcing this bylaw and making an effort to enforce this act in its entirety; however, according to supervisor Barb Eichholz, it is not always the easiest to enforce.
“The issue is that when we get a call and respond, by the time we get there the person is gone,” said Eichholz. Students often dip out for a quick drag before classes or during breaks and are quick to finish during the cold months of winter, so security often is not able to apprehend the individual.
 “We ask people who notice others smoking across the line to politely and respectfully ask them to move back outside the line,” said Eichholz.
The motto of Conestoga College’s Safety and Security Services is posted for all to see in their office on the Doon campus and reads, “prevent, educate and serve.” 
Signage and a thick red line mark where people can and cannot smoke near entrances of the college, but not much else is being done to “prevent” people from migrating closer to doorways in the cold and snowy conditions. If an individual from security is walking rounds and spots a smoker too close to an entranceway, he or she is asked to move. However, it is not something that is closely monitored because security officials don’t want to “tie up resources,” according to Eichholz.
People smoking outside of entrances also pose an occupational health and safety hazard for college employees. As clearly stated in the Smoke-Free Ontario Smoke Free Act, an employer has the same obligations to its employees as it does to the public, meaning the same rules for prohibition in certain areas of the college campus apply to the workplace. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the workplace is smoke-free and safe for employees; this includes enforcement of the policies.
Is enough being done?
According to many Conestoga students, the answer is no.
“The red lines are not far enough from the doorways,” said Zachary Clark. As a health sciences graduate who is now training to be a paramedic, he is still always at the college visiting friends and every time he comes or goes he is greeted and bid adieu by the aroma of cigarette smoke.
“It is inconsiderate,” he said. “Just because they want to put their health at risk by smoking doesn’t mean they should put everyone else’s (at risk).”
Currently there is no red line indicating a no-smoking area at any of the F-wing doors. However, as soon as the ground is dry and winter is over they will be painted.