Interview with a smoker

Having worked in a small town grocery store this past summer I learned that the average cash out for tobacco products was $1,000 a day, in a town of 200 people! So, from Captain Black Sweets to John Player Standard and everything in between, it is obvious that tobacco is still a huge industry in Canada.

Have you ever been walking around campus and inhaled a unwanted breath of cigarette smoke? Or perhaps someone walked by you while smoking and gave you a waft you would rather have passed on. Well, I took some time to wander around campus and to chat with some smokers about smoking rules and regulations, quitting smoking, bumming smokes off of friends and where they buy there cigarettes.

While wandering the quad I ran into Robert Jeffrey and Josh Philion. They were sitting on a bench having casual conversation and smoking cigars. Jeffrey does not consider himself a “full time smoker.” He casually smokes cigars but generally tries to stay away from tobacco products.

Philion, on the other hand, is a smoker, but prefers to get his cigarettes from someone else. In response to a question asking if he was trying to quit smoking he replied, “That’s why I bum smokes off people.” So in efforts to quit, Philion buys less cigarettes.

I bid adieu to the cigar smokers on the bench, and was soon back on my trip around the campus. It wasn’t long before I ran into a closet smoker, who wished to stay anonymous. This individual seemed very contentious of non-smokers and decided to not walk around while smoking a cigarette. They said, “I know that when I was not smoking I hated walking and getting smoke in my face so [when I smoke] I usually stay stationary.”

Our anonymous friend had once attempted to quit smoking and succeeded. They mentioned that the cash intensive that was offered to them helped them stay focused on their goal.

Do incentives work though? According to two thirds of the ex-smokers that I talked to, they had outside incentives to quit smoking and it worked. They were offered a material reward if they succeeded in quitting and it kept them focused on their goal.

Nicolas Marinic is an ex-smoker who used to buy his smokes at Shell, a store that was convenient for him. He is not alone though, the majority of smokers who were interviewed bought their cigarettes at local stores that were most convenient to them. Only one smoker went out of her way to buy her cigarettes. She found a location with slightly lower prices and constantly revisited it.

Jeffery, Marinic and Philion all share a common attribute. They all claimed that they bummed cigarettes off their friends. Their reasons ranged from not wanting to buy a new pack themselves to trying to quit and simply asking friends for them when they have a craving. “Bumming” a cigarette seems to be a fairly popular occurrence among smokers.

There are many smokers who attend the University of Manitoba and decide to light up on university property. Many buildings on campus, such as University Centre, have signs posted outside asking people to not smoke in certain areas so that the smoke does not drift inside, and so the people entering an exiting the building do not have to walk through a cloud of burned tobacco. But these signs are not always effective as smoking has been around for years on end it does not currently face extinction, at least not on this campus.