Canada – A high school principal in Canada has built an outdoor smoking lounge for students. It is behind the building and comes complete with ash trays and chairs.
Principal Todd Schmekel told reporters for the Global Calgary that the designated smoking area at Foothills Composite/Alberta High School of Fine Arts will help staff members keep a closer eye on the students who choose to smoke.
The staff members will know who to target with their anti-smoking campaigns.
His biggest concern, however, is more immediate. Before the school built the outdoor lounge, the students smoked near the street, just off school property. Traffic whizzed by, creating a safety concern. Elementary school students could see the teenagers smoking from their bus windows. According to Global Network, Schmekel was worried that the younger children would see the teenagers and think that smoking was cool.
The students also tended to litter and bother residents living in the area, Global Calgary reported.
School officials said they do not want to encourage teens to smoke, they just want to give the students who already smoke a more appropriate place to do it.
“My fear is by just driving them further from the school we don’t have contact with them and we don’t educate them,” Schmekel told Global Calgary.
Many parents are outraged with his decision.
“I have problems with it. My problem with it number one is the fact that it’s illegal. And by allowing it I think the school is condoning breaking the law. And the second thing I have a problem with is the long-term health of the kids that are smoking,” one father told Global Network.
District policy prohibits smoking on school property, and the Prevention of Youth and Tobacco Act prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from possessing, consuming or otherwise using tobacco products.
“We are constantly speaking against the desire to smoke. I can see how people would see it as a tacit approval but it’s not. We are totally against smoking,” Schmekel told Global Calgary.
Schmekel has the support of his Superintendent. The Ward trustee had no comment for Global Calgary.