Friday, December 15, 2017

Open Space: Camosun too smokin’

March 7, 2012 by Jean Oliver, contributing writer

Camosun students who use Ewing 100 at the Lansdowne campus for classes and labs should get free gas masks upon registration. It’s the only way to survive the smoke that gets sucked in through the doors and windows.

The levels of secondhand smoke around the designated smoking areas have impacted the routes I take to class as well. And sitting down to enjoy a sunny, warm day? Best to not do it in territory controlled by the smokers.

(Graphic by Jessica Tai/Nexus)

Sitting at picnic tables anywhere in the Fisher courtyard, or volunteering at one of the display tables, makes it impossible to avoid the fumes (unless you have that gas mask handy).

The college is working towards implementing a smoke-free campus policy, which won’t happen any sooner than fall 2012; in the meantime, it’s my hope that students will be able to use the breezeway corridor picnic tables without having to sit upwind of the Fisher building.

When the windows of the Ewing lab get opened, when lots of traffic comes in and out of the doors next to the gazebo-style smoking shelter, eye-stinging, headache-inducing clouds of cigarette smoke get sucked inside, chimney-style. (You know, a clip could be installed on the back of our chairs for those gas masks.)

Students and staff in Fisher 214 and 216 have also complained about smoke wafting across the courtyard and in through the windows.

Entering the bottom floor of the Ewing building fills me with nostalgia for the days I enjoyed a smoke in a nightclub. The acrid, lingering aroma of stale cigarettes in the stairwell… All that’s missing is my feet sticking to day-old dried beer on the floor.

And Ewing 100? Not a happy place. Even if you manage to luck out and find a free computer, you join other students whose red eyes stream with tears as they peer at their screens through the fumes.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand where the smokers come from: I am an ex-smoker. To my former smoking pals I am to be pitied. I am a traitorous weakling. I broke the creed. I am Boromir. I abandoned my phlegm-filled sisters and brothers for pink lungs and full-olfactory function.

To this day I miss the camaraderie that’s only to be found ’round sharing fire. I know what it means to turn your shoulder to the wind and shelter a lit match. I remember the tender looks elicited by the holy grail of questions: “Can I bum a smoke?”

I was the one who always had a lighter that worked.

Now I fantasize about gas masks.

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