U of C fails smoking test

By Chris Beauchamp

ty of Calgary came in dead last in a recent survey evaluating the tobacco policies of 35 Canadian post-secondary institutions.

The survey, entitled "Tobacco on Campus: Tobacco Control Policies among Universities and Colleges in Canada," was conducted by graduate students from across Canada in conjunction with Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. The results were obtained through phone surveys questioning student leaders, administration officials, retail store and bar managers, and health services contacts from 22 universities and 13 colleges.

"[This survey] just describes it as very static," said Students’ Union Vice-President Operations and Finance Greg Clayton. "It just says we’re the worst. It doesn’t talk about what we’re doing to move forward."

The schools were rated on tobacco control policy, on-campus tobacco marketing as well as for initiatives on limiting and controlling tobacco use. Each institution received a numerical rating with factors like tobacco sales lowering the score and initiatives to help with smoking cessation increasing it. The U of C earned the lowest score in Canada at 0.5 points.

The U of C was rated as the only institution to have both run tobacco ads in the campus newspaper, hosted a tobacco sponsored event within the past year and make use of point of purchase tobacco sales.

Point of purchase sales include all indirect marketing, including so-called "power walls" of cigarettes behind store counters, said David Hammond, a doctoral student at the University of Waterloo and principal coordinator of the survey.

"This type of marketing is ever more important given that other forms are restricted," said Hammond, noting that "power walls" are not by accident, but by contractual arrangement.

Clayton noted the SU now has a policy to not accept tobacco sponsored events, but admitted that it does have a contracted lease agreement with tobacco companies for the display behind the counter of the Stör.

"There’s been a lot done and I’m sure we’re not the worst in the country any more," he said.

Six institutions faired only marginally better than the U of C with 1 point each. The highest score awarded–4 points–was shared by four universities.

The survey proves that a more aggressive policy on smoking elimination is needed, said Yvette Biggs, coordinator of the Smoke Free U of C sub-committee.

"It reinforces what the SFUC is trying to do," said Biggs. "We’re really concerned about tobacco money on campus. We don’t really have the details on that and students definitely don’t have the details. I think they’re entitled to that."

The SFUC advocates a campus-wide ban on tobacco sales and use by May 2006, and reports to the University Health, Safety and Security Committee.

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