Hat tip to Smokingscot for this story:
Algonquin students vent over permanent smoking ban
Students’ association says majority opposes blanket ban on tobacco, pot smoking
Some students at Algonquin College’s Ottawa campus are fuming over the possibility of a permanent, blanket ban on smoking at the school.
The college announced an interim policy in early October forbidding smoking anywhere on its Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke campuses, effective until Jan. 1, 2019.
The stopgap measure was in response to the Ontario government’s decision that cannabis smoking will be allowed wherever tobacco smoking is permitted, an announcement that left institutions scrambling to align their policies with the province’s pot laws.
Algonquin is currently consulting students about making the smoking ban permanent, and will hold a forum on Friday to give them a chance to vent.
Ban unfair, students’ association says
Matthew Regnier, a director with the Algonquin Students’ Association, said based on unscientific surveys, even though most students don’t smoke, the majority believes those who do should have someplace to puff on campus, whether they’re smoking a cigarette or a joint.
Regnier said forcing smokers off the sprawling campus in the few minutes they have between classes is unfair.
“Most students feel that a smoking ban on campus does not align with the college’s values,” he said.
Under an alternative policy suggested by the students’ association, students would be allowed to smoke in designated areas on campus, away from entrances and highly travelled pathways.
‘We’re all adults’
That would suit Serafina Zirbser, 23, who was flouting the interim ban near the college’s student centre Thursday.
“We’re all adults. If we don’t want to be around people who are smoking, then we can just walk away,” she said.
“We’re already super stressed, and then you’re taking away something that helps with stress? It’s going to cause a lot of problems.”
Emily Godin, who said she used to smoke but quit, wondered why the college is considering banning marijuana smoking on campus when it allows the consumption of alcohol.
“We have a bar here too,” observed Godin, 19. “Why are you allowing us to get drunk on campus, but you’re limiting us getting high?”
Support for ban
Despite the students’ association’s claim, it’s not difficult to find students who are in favour of the blanket ban.
“There’s a time and a place for smoking, and it’s not during post-secondary education,” said Kayleigh Siermachesky, a student in the college’s diagnostic medical imaging program, who said she’s seen the negative health effects of smoking first-hand.
Friday’s smoke-free campus forum takes place at 2 p.m. in the Ottawa campus’s Indigenous Centre.
My first response: Good to see some resistance to a smoking ban for a change.
My second response: Since this is a response to “Ontario government’s decision that cannabis smoking will be allowed wherever tobacco smoking is permitted”, I’m guessing that the college authorities really want to stop pot smoking rather than tobacco smoking. And what we’re seeing here is a development in the cultural war between the two – one in which the pot smokers have been making steady advances for the past 50 years while tobacco smokers have been in retreat.
Back in the 1960s, when pot smoking prevalence among students leaped. tobacco was perfectly legal to smoke more or less everywhere (except, by convention, in church), and pot was perfectly illegal to smoke absolutely everywhere. Now we seem to be rapidly approaching something like a complete reversal of how life was then, as pot becomes more and more legal, and tobacco less and less.
And as a child of the 1960s, I’ve smoked my fair share of pot. And in the 1990s I was even involved in a bit of campaigning on its behalf. I’m all for its legalisation. However, over the past 15 – 20 years I’ve swung from defending pot to defending tobacco. I’ve completely lost interest in pot. I can’t remember the last time I smoked any, but it must have been well over 10 years ago, and I remember that I coughed a lot. I’ve rather lost interest in getting stoned. I prefer being sober (or is it “straight”?)
And now that I no longer believe that tobacco causes lung cancer (or anything else), I think that pot is a far more dangerous drug than tobacco, because it really is strongly psychotropic. I wouldn’t really want to learn that my bus driver or train driver or airline pilot was stoned out of his skull at the controls. Same if he’d just sunk a bottle of whisky, because alcohol is strongly psychotropic as well. But tobacco isn’t psychotropic at all: its effects are very subtle. So I wouldn’t be bothered if the driver or pilot was smoking a cigarette.
All that aside, I was interested in the moral arguments mounted by the students against the smoking ban, which were:
It “does not align with the college’s values.”
“We’re all adults.”
What is “unfair”? Please define “fairness.” And do colleges really have “values”? Are some colleges’ values different from other colleges’ values? Are the colleges’ values written in stone somewhere like the Ten Commandments or the Code of Hammurabi? And what exactly does “adult” mean? How do you tell if someone is or isn’t an “adult”?
It reminds me of the same sort of fatuous assertions made by European politicians (like Emmanuel Macron) about “European values.” What are these values? Where are they listed? Where did they come from?
Or, worse still, Google’s risible injunction: “Don’t Be Evil.” What is “evil”? What is “good”? How do we tell good from evil? Please explain in 3 Easy Steps.
We’re living in a moral vacuum these days. We don’t really know what’s right and what’s wrong. And this is one reason why something like “Health” has become a modern idol. For if we don’t know what’s right and wrong, what’s good and evil, we can surely at least agree that at very least Health is a primary value of some sort.
If the medical profession has taken command of values, with the new primacy of Health, it seems to me that it’s because the churches which were the old guardians of morality have fallen into decay. So the doctors have stepped in to replace them. That’s also one reason why Islam is resurgent. The moral vacuum sucks in replacement values from everywhere and anywhere.
I wish the Algonquin students well. They’re in the heart of a moral maelstrom.