Students’ Association calls for smoking areas to keep the campus clean

College stands by smoke-free policy launched in 2019
Photo: Laiyiady Lam
A small pile of cigarette butts was scattered in front of a "no smoking" sign.

As the Students’ Association continues to call for smoking areas on campus, the college administration is sticking with its blanket “smoke-free” policy for the college property.

Algonquin College’s non-smoking policy started on Jan. 1, 2019. However, many students continue to smoke in smoke-free areas on campus.

Ato Yankson, a cyber security analysis student, said he usually sees people smoke outside the entrance of the ACCE building to Baseline Station.

There were students and construction workers gathered outside the ACCE building to smoke or vape on Tuesday afternoon last week. The entrance to Baseline Station looked very dirty due to the large volume of cigarette butts nearby.

A large number of cigarette butts were scattered in the corner of the ACCE building near the Baseline entrance.
A large number of cigarette butts were scattered in the corner of the ACCE building near the Baseline entrance. Photo credit: Laiyiady Lam

“While we do not encourage smoking,” the president of the Algonquin Students’ Association, Abigail Soto Carvajal, said, “we think designated areas to smoke would help keep our campus cleaner and ensure high-traffic areas are smoke-free.”

According to Carvajal, the SA acknowledges that Algonquin College is a smoke-free environment. However, given the current situation, the SA believes there should be proper disposal options and designated smoking areas on the Ottawa, Pembroke, and Perth campuses.

Wei Li, a construction engineering student, supports the idea of having a smoking area on campus to minimize the impact on non-smokers. “It provides a place for smokers to release,” she said.

Eyerinmene Benedict Martins, from the project management graduate certificate program, has the opposite opinion.

“I think what Algonquin has in terms of people smoking outside of campus is good,” said Martins. “I think it’s out of respect, there’s somebody who can’t really stand the smell of when someone’s smoking.”

A student is smoking outside the ACCE-building.
A student smokes outside the ACCE-building. Photo credit: Laiyiady Lam

Some students who spoke with the Algonquin Times said there should be three or four smoking areas with trash cans and signs. In the students’ opinion, the location should be in an open area with good air circulation

In addition, some students suggested specific policies should be formed for smoking areas.

“There should be some policy in there,” Yankson said. “We have people who are underage that need to be managed.”

But there are also concerns about having smoking areas on campus.

Yankson acknowledges students have the freedom to make their choices, but he emphasizes the health risks associated with smoking. He is concerned having smoking areas could encourage more students to take up smoking.

When asked what the college is doing to create designated smoking areas, Algonquin College said in a written statement: “The College continues to support and promote safe and healthy smoke-free environments at all campuses for our learners and employees.”

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