No butts about it: Still no smoking at Dal’s Halifax campuses

- November 19, 2012

The Dal Tiger, on board with butting out on campus. (Danny Abriel photo)
The Dal Tiger, on board with butting out on campus. (Danny Abriel photo)

There’s a bit of a challenge on the Halifax campuses. It’s a challenge that may be small to some, huge to others, and completely insignificant to the rest. But it’s there.

Since 2003, Dalhousie has had a smoke-free campus policy for its Halifax campuses, instructing students, faculty and staff to move off-campus for their smoke breaks. Despite the policy, you'll regularly find people still smoking in certain areas of campus: seated too close to the Killam Library, or on the benches right next to the SUB; in the doorways of the LSC; walking across the quad; between buildings on Sexton campus.

Dal Security regularly visits the popular smoking areas on all three Halifax campuses to remind the community that smoking is not permitted on Dal property. But even still, trying to discourage smoking on campus remains a community challenge.

“The Faculty of Health Professions first recommended the smoke-free campus, due to obvious health concerns for our staff and students, both smokers and non-smokers,” says Raymond Ilson, director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. “At the time, Dal took a national leadership role in smoke-free campuses and the scent-free guidelines, issues which other universities were quick to follow.”

Each year, Dal rolls out a postering campaign to help inform the constant influx of new students about the policy, but that hasn’t always been enough to keep the clouds of smoke off campus. 

The challenge in changing behaviours

Emma Whelan, a sociology professor at Dal, says that ongoing efforts to change health behaviours often run into challenges because people’s definitions of well-being can vary — and may not necessarily coincide with public health directives.

“Just telling people not to smoke is a bit like telling people to ‘just say no’ to drugs," says Dr. Whelan. "It neglects the fact that not smoking may be very difficult for those who are physically or emotionally dependent on cigarettes, or that smoking may enhance their life in some way — it may give them an opportunity to socialize, or a way to manage stress."

While Dal’s smoke-free campus campaign doesn’t intend to tell students they shouldn’t be smoking at all, it certainly reminds the Dal community about the underlying health concerns for both smokers and non-smokers.

But, quitting isn’t easy, and that’s a well-known fact — a fact that can sometimes be enough to steer someone clear of that bumpy road of withdrawals, cravings, and mood swings.

Moving towards healthy choices

“When I encounter students who are thinking about quitting I ask them to think about the positives of quitting smoking versus the positives associated with continuing smoking,” says Derrick Enslow, program manager of health promotion in Student Services.

“Often the positives of quitting win, and can lead to a shift in thinking about smoking. They may not be ready to quit right away but in most cases there is a greater willingness to make a change at some point down the road.”

Students that are interested in beginning the process of quitting can contact Student Services for support.

“Student Health Promotion offers an eight-week support group program for students who want to quit smoking,” says Enslow. “The program uses a workbook and discussion style format so that participants can discuss their challenges with quitting smoking and learn from others’ successful strategies for quitting smoking.”

Staff and faculty looking to quit can contact Human Resources for support and resources available to them.

And if you are a smoker, please respect others by following Dalhousie's smoke-free policy on the Halifax campuses. Watch for information cards from Dal Security officers that outline Dal property for areas to light up, and remember to be respectful with your waste while smoking on public property.

The Dalhousie Student Union has also produced its own video about smoking on campus. Watch it below:

More resources


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