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Out and About Weighing in on the school smoking ban

When students and teachers went back to school on Aug. 26, some may have noticed a big change.

When students and teachers went back to school on Aug. 26, some may have noticed a big change.

Gone were the days when they could smoke in designated areas around the school, and gone were the days of turning one's back to underage teenagers puffing away on cancer sticks.

The Saskatchewan Government has made it illegal to smoke or chew tobacco on school property as of Aug. 15.

This is the first in a staged approached of amendments made to tobacco legislation earlier this year. The goal of The Tobacco Control Amendment Act is to make it more difficult for young people to start smoking in the first place.

Admittedly I'm not a smoker and never have been, though I have lots of friends who are smokers so I understand both sides. In high school, I had this one friend who always wanted me to go to the famed "Smoker's Pad" with her during our break so we could hang out while she had her fix. I dreaded going out there because I hated the smell.

The few times I did agree to go out there, I don't know if I thought the teachers were "cool" for letting all these underage kids smoke or if they were idiots. Maybe they just didn't care.

I also found it interesting when I discovered which teachers smoked. It felt like I had dirt on them and if they ever tried to tell me why smoking was bad, I would be able to laugh in their face.

It should come as no surprise then that I completely support a smoking ban on school property. I just can't believe it took this long. I mean, basically the schools were fostering a teenager's desire to smoke.

The scene would go something like this.

Johnny, a grade 10 student, is standing in front of the school doors finishing his cigarette before heading in for classes.

Teacher: Johnny, you're not supposed to smoke here.

Johnny: Whatever.

Johnny walks around to the "designated smoker's area" and continues to finish his cigarette. No one says anything.

This is just completely ridiculous. Teachers have a certain amount of responsibility to not only encourage kids not to smoke but to ensure it doesn't happen on their watch. While I wrote earlier I think the smoking ban on school property is a great thing, it shouldn't have been needed in the first place. Teachers should have policed those areas and stopped kids from smoking.

Now before all teachers think I'm out to attack them, I know it's difficult to stop a kid from smoking. You can scream health issues and the fact it's illegal until you're blue in the face, but other than that, what else can a teacher do short of pulling the cancer stick out of the kid's mouth?

So now I can only wonder, even though it's illegal to smoke on school property, how will it be policed. If teachers didn't or couldn't stop kids from smoking before, how are they going to stop them now? Maybe the only real change will be teachers will have to go hide somewhere off school property to smoke - which is a whole other issue.

Teachers are adults and thus legally allowed to smoke. In some ways, they should be allowed to smoke wherever they want. (Again, a whole other issue). On the other hand, smoking on school probably is setting a bad example for young, impressionable minds.

The next few months are bound to be interesting as we see how this new legislation unfolds in schools. Are kids going to continue to smoke on school grounds? And if they do, how will they be charged? We all know how difficult it is to have a youth charged with vandalism. Time will tell.