Disappointment over SU smoking policy

By Stephanie Claggett

On Sept. 14, the Students’ Union passed a policy attempting to reconcile their position on smoking with the Smoke-Free University of Calgary sub-committee’s position. Unfortunately, the policy, while well meaning, doesn’t call for any real action.

“Essentially, the policy doesn’t change a lot,” said SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Greg Clayton, who went on to say the policy’s only purpose is to solidify and clarify the SU’s stance.

Summed up, the SU’s policy is this: Don’t smoke where there are “no smoking” signs, and–until the City of Calgary rules otherwise–the Den will not become smoke-free.

The Den is the biggest issue of contention between the SU and the SFUC committee. Clayton insists making the Den into a non-smoking establishment would be a bad business decision, but SFUC committee chair Joan McDonald believes students should look at smoking as a health issue rather than a monetary issue.

“There’s a lot more to it than worrying about the profitability of it,” said McDonald.

The SU makes about a 20 per cent profit on its tobacco sales– about $65,000 annually.

Still, it’s not all about the money. The SU fears that not only would the Den suffer from a non-smoking policy, but also the smoking population of the U of C.

“It’s like censorship,” said Clayton. SFUC doesn’t see it that way.

“It’s an ethical question,” countered McDonald. “Do we care about the health and wellness of the students? If you’re in an environment were you permit smoking, you’re promoting smoking. We don’t want to encourage addiction.”

SFUC wants the SU to take a more proactive role in reducing smoking on campus, but Clayton questioned the plausibility of this idea, as the current policy–no smoking within five meters of doorways–is rarely, if ever, enforced. SFUC, though, expects the policy to run on a kind of honour system: smokers should respect others enough to follow the rules.

Both sides agree that there is still a long way to go. But for now, it seems that the U of C will follow the crowd.

Leave a comment