Clearing The Smoke

Below is an excerpt from author Orland French’s book, PIONEERING: A History of Loyalist College (1992). While some references are no longer current, the publication provides a rich report on Loyalist’s history, which helps to contextualize its milestones. To read more from Mr. French’s book, please click here

Winters are the worst for Loyalist’s smokers. Huddling in doorways, turning their faces away from the wind-driven snow, they fight to avoid freezing their “butts” in an ever-expanding smoke-free environment.

The clash of smokers and non-smokers has been marked on Loyalist’s campus as elsewhere in society in the late 20th century. Smokers are required to indulge their habit in the great outdoors where, theoretically, their pollutant dissipates without offending anyone.

It wasn’t always that way. In the 1960s, smoking was permitted in the classroom and elsewhere in the College. The first controversy over smoking occurred before Loyalist even had a campus. When the College was renting space from Centennial Secondary School in Belleville, smoking was permitted on the grounds for College students – but not for high school students. How, outside the classroom, could you tell them apart?

But over the years, as smoking became less socially acceptable, smokers’ territory got smaller.

Smoking was banned from the classrooms but not from laboratories except at the discretion of the teacher. Ashtrays had to be available and emptied after every class. The rules were mostly “smoke and mirrors” until 1983, when the College re-affirmed the policy and announced that it would be enforced. Six years later, the ban on smoking was extended throughout the College and security guards gained a new slang title: “smoke police”.

Smoking areas are designated outside the Kente and Pioneer buildings. The College’s Health and Safety committee recommended that shelters be built to protect smokers from inclement weather. However, the Board of Governors vetoed the proposal.

Smokers still commune in the cold.