Tobacco-Free School?

Daryl Doiron was a buddy of mine in high school – we have shared a lot of laughs together over the years. In addition to being rugby and football teammates, he was in my grade 11 chemistry class. I recall the day Daryl was having difficulty figuring out a gravemetric stochiometry problem. I took the time to explain it to him; in fact, I explained it in a way that was different from the teacher’s approach. My explanation worked, and Daryl was off and running. I vividly remember him saying, “Hey (nickname), thanks. You should be a teacher.” It was at that moment that the thought of going into education first occurred to me. Thanks, Daryl, for planting that seed.

TOBACCO-FREE SCHOOLS

In 1998, the Department of Education in N.B. introduced Policy 702, the Tobacco-Free Schools policy. I was at Macdonald Consolidated and, by this time, it was a K-8 school. For us, the use of tobacco by students really wasn’t an issue.

Now I should point out that our school was named for Sir William Macdonald (note the lower case “d”), 10 February 1831 – 9 June 1917. He and his brother founded Macdonald Tobacco. As a philanthropist, he built a number of rural, consolidated schools. Our school was constructed in 1910 and the original structure still exists.

Following the release of Policy 702, schools in our district received an e-mail message from the administrative assistant to the Director of Education. It asked, “ … what programs (if any) do you have at your school dealing with smoking; ie, programs educating students about the consequences of smoking. Would you please let me know whether or not you have anti-smoking programs and, if so, what those programs are.”

I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Here is my exact response:

From:  Caines, Gary

To:  N., J. (ED6/8)
Subject: Anti-Smoking Programs

Being a school which was built with money provided by a tobacco company, we actually encourage smoking, but we tell children that moderation is the key. Our rule is, “One cigarette per day per grade level”; ie, 1 smoke a day for grade 1’s; 8 for grade 8’s (kindergarten children are allowed to share 1 cigarette between 2 kids). Occasionally we have a child who refuses to smoke but I simply suspend them and they become the parents’ problem. Unfortunately, some of these parents are nonsmokers themselves, so I know in many cases the kids are not being forced to smoke at home – I don’t have much control over that though. All we can do is try our best.

To actually answer your question, we do not offer any formal anti-smoking programs.


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