Cigarette ban hits MRC
Mount Royal students may have to trek farther distances to buy cigarettes now that the Tobacco Reduction Act prohibits any tobacco products from being sold at the college.
The new regulations were first initiated last January when smoking was outlawed in all public places and workplaces. Then on July 1 the advertising or promotion of tobacco products was banned at all retail locations. The final step on Jan. 1 was to prohibit the sale of all tobacco products at post-secondary institutions, pharmacies and retail outlets including a pharmacy.
“By taking the cigarettes off campus we’re promoting health and wellness,” said Shermin Murji, 26, a tobacco reduction educator at the EnCana Wellness Centre at Mount Royal.
With such clear-cut regulations, the Tobacco Reduction Act is causing concern for merchandisers who depend on the profit that tobacco brings in.
Nizer Jiwani, 57, the owner of the Collegiate Shop in Wyckham House, said tobacco products generated roughly 50 per cent of his revenue on a monthly basis and without them he is not sure how his business will survive after being a part of Mount Royal for 13 years.
“It’s a loss to the store, it’s a loss to the college, to Wyckham House and loss to the administration,” Jiwani said.
With almost a hundred customers coming in regularly for tobacco products, Jiwani is concerned about the loss of business those hundred customers would normally generate. “When someone comes to buy tobacco, at the same time they buy pop, some confectionary, they come with their friends, if they don’t show up, that could affect us quite a bit,” he said.
However, though disappointed and concerned about the numbers, Jiwani said he isn’t angry about the legislation and admits to knowing that post-secondary institutions are a target for tobacco companies.
“If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen, we can’t do anything about it,” Jiwani said.
Some students on campus may not be so relenting, as many of them have expressed their frustrations to Jiwani after he informed them of the new legislation.
“We’re all mature adults, and we’re old enough to make decisions for ourselves,” said Liza Vainschcein, 19, a first-year student in the business administration program.
Though the regulations are meant to deter Albertans from continuing or starting to smoke, some students are not sure if the new legislation will be very effective.
“I’ve gone through so many price changes, I’ve gone through them covering up all the cigarettes, and just having to walk farther will not make me smoke less, none of the other things have,” said Haley Mullen, 19, a psychology student in her second year at the college.
The EnCana Wellness Center maintains that the Tobacco Reduction Act is an exciting opportunity. The centre will continue to offer its services for smokers resolving to quit the habit.
Today, 27 per cent of all young adults in Canada admit to smoking, compared to the overall average of 20 per cent, according to Murji.
Murji stated that the Tobacco Reduction Act goes hand-in-hand with the goals of the Wellness Centre and the message isn’t one meant to reprimand smokers but to encourage any effort to quit and protect non-smokers from exposure.
“We’re not going to say you need to quit, we’re not going to wave our finger at you … if someone is ready to quit or wants to cut down, that’s what we’re here for,” Murji said.