King's Student Union launches anti-smoking campaign

The university's lenient stance on smoking has come under fire

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The King’s Student Union is launching an anti-smoking campaign. The university permits smoking on campus. (Photo: Meredith Bailey)

The University of King's College has a long tradition of tolerance towards smoking, a tradition that appears to be an accepted part of campus life. King's allows smoking on campus and allowed smoking in residences until 2006.

This year the King's Student Union is launching an anti-smoking awareness campaign. But old traditions and habits die hard and King's students might not be ready to quit.

"To be the only campus in Halifax that doesn't have some sort of anti-smoking campaign was just ludicrous," says Daniel Brown, vice president of external for the KSU, about the campaign. He says the goal "is to provide people resources to quit if they need to."

Brown, an "occasional smoker," says like many students he started smoking in his first year at King's. "I remember the dons set the bar very high, being role models that they are ... Seeing them smoke ... You just want to be as smart as they are."

King's leniency is in contrast to the rules at neighbouring Dalhousie University. King's shares a campus and faculties with Dalhousie University, but Dal became the first school in Canada to become smoke-free in 2003.

King's anti-smoking stance

Emma Morgan-Thorp, campus safety coordinator at King's, is responsible for the anti-smoking campaign. She says the freedom to choose is something that makes King's unique, but "second-hand smoke is an issue" for non-smokers.

While not against smoking, Morgan-Thorp's role is to look out for students' health and well-being. She doesn't want to hang posters saying smoking is bad. She says her first step is to organize a town hall meeting where she hopes smokers and non-smokers will share their thoughts on the policy.

Morgan-Thorp says encouraging people to quit will be a challenge because smoking is an accepted part of King's culture. But, she says "since King's has a very permissive attitude toward smoking, it's in the council's best interests to keep an eye on how that affects the health of the community."

Morgan-Thorp says she thinks the campaign will be in place by November.

Stephen Snobelen, associate professor in the history science and technology program, takes issue with smoking on campus. In 2006 he wrote a letter to all staff saying King's smoking policy was more reflective of "1946, than 2006," and "what we really need is a total ban on smoking." Snobelen feels the same today. He says King's is still "out of step with the rest of society and certainly with Dalhousie."

Torry Jones, a first-year student, smoked casually before coming to King's. Now she smokes regularly. She says she wasn't concerned about the health risks of smoking and was surprised that Dalhousie was a smoke-free campus.

"I light one on King's and then I walk to Dal."

Jones says she hopes King's doesn't change its policy.

"It would be awesome if they kept it that way. The tradition is wonderful."

 

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