Leave the Pack Behind


This comes as absolutely no surprise. Before I heard about the initiative on the part of UTMs Health and Safety Committee and students from the Green Team and Leave the Pack Behind, (re: Butting out at UTM, page 2) I had already noticed the chalk outlines outside the entrances of the main buildings on campus. Thats right; its about time, I thought to myself.

You see, Im a smoker, but even I have had enough of the hordes of smokers on campus that stand and puff right outside the entrances of the South and CCIT Buildings. But dont think me hypocritical just yet — I dont have a problem with the second-hand smoke. Its the mini puddles of spit on the floor that irk me to no end.

Yes, in a way, its not really the average smokers fault. Its the group of people that are compelled to spit after each and every drag of the cigarette. To all you spitters out there, here is my rationale pure and simple: If you dont like the taste of cigarettes, dont smoke. If you have a sensitive throat, dont smoke. And if you absolutely have to smoke and spit, bring a paper cup or spit bowl with you wherever you go; because I — like many other smokers and non-smokers alike — am sick and tired of having to tiptoe past all the puddles of slime and saliva as I enter a building. Dont believe how bad it is? Pay a visit to floor zero of the underground parking garage.

Several of you out there will probably disagree with me, citing that the real reason this Move your Butt campaign is in place is because of the hazardous effects of second-hand smoke on nonsmokers. I dont deny or dispute with this — Ive had many a friend get sick as a direct consequence of a ride home in my smoke-ridden car. But with regards to this new rule, I must question how much of a difference its going to make. How far away do people think us smokers are actually going to retreat from the entrances? Probably just outside the lines, where the rest of the crowd will still walk by, and still inhale.

Nonetheless, its pretty clear whats happening here. They (the health junkies who openly condescend to us ashtray breaths ) are taking it one step at a time. Today, its these chalk-drawn borders; tomorrow, it may well be tiny designated boxes fifty meters away from anywhere for us to stand in. Its not as if nobody has implemented that policy already.

A little known fact many of you probably dont know about: Way back in 2000, it was Canada who began health warning (pictorial) messages that appear on the packaging of cigarettes. Since then, no less than thirty-eight countries have followed suit. Some of those countries have already taken it numerous steps further. Not only are the images on the cigarette packs graphical depictions of damaged lungs and gums (some of them quite gruesome, really), the prices of the pack itself rises systematically year after year.

In Singapore for example, a pack of Marlboros costs $12.50 (a 100 per cent mark-up from nine years ago). As well, outdoor smoking is already banned. For the rare smoker, he or she is relegated to an isolated yellow box (approx. 6 meter square foot) a good fifty meters away from any building. Imagine twelve people or so contained within lines determined by yellow and black tape, in the middle of the outdoors, puffing away. A reality for Canada in the future? Dont bet against it.

And we smokers have those darned spitters to blame.