Smoking isn't very elegant these days, and I certainly understand the need of parents or grandparents or other concerned citizens to protect their children from the dangers of cigarette smoking. That is a given.
On the other hand, in our free society, tobacco products are regulated and sold, and are still a legal product to consume under certain circumstances.
From a legal stand point provincially, the Smoke-free Places Act of 2002 dictates many things, of interest to my story is Section 5 (1) b, No person shall smoke in any enclosed place that is or includes a school, community college or university. From a civic law perspective, smoking is prohibited near building entrances; no smoking is allowed within 4 meters of windows, air intake vents and entrances to places of employment.
I don't smoke inside my home, and I do my best not to smoke in front of my child, let alone other children.
So, back to my story. I was on my way to pick up my son at school today, he gets out at 3:00. I decided to light up a smoke on the way to pick him up, but I must have been walking pretty fast because I still hadn't finished it by the time I arrived off site of the school grounds, where there is a telephone pole on the sidewalk I normally lean on while waiting. It was about 2:50 by the time I arrived. So I was waiting there on the sidewalk (off school grounds and a good twenty feet from the entrance), having the last few puffs of my cigarette before I put it out.
At this point, an older man who I had seen around the school (I believe he is a grandparent of one of the children who attends the school) comes over to me and in a menacing tone says to me "I don't want you smoking outside the school - you are a bad influence on the children".
To say I was taken aback would be an understatement; it is not like I stand in front of the school with any kind of intention of corrupting todays youth.
I responded to him by saying that if the bell rang I would definitely extinguish my cigarette promptly since I wouldn't want to be flaunting my tobacco use in front of kids, so if the bell rang I would definitely put it out.
He responded by saying "No, you can't smoke here, do you want me to go inside and tell the office?"
Again, I was dumbfounded.
I felt like I was an elementary student again, being accosted by some over agitated geriatric.
I told him "Go for it" and he made his way to go into school. He yelled something at me again but I didn't hear him so I said "Feel free in the future to keep your opinions to yourself".
This really got him fired up. He then said to me "Well you look like an asshole" To which I responded "Likewise" and he proceeded to enter the school.
Not that I'm really sure what he meant by that. I mean, since he is the pruney puckered old man, I would think it would be he who looks like an asshole... But I digress.
Shortly after this point my cigarette was done, so I disposed of it and continued to wait for my son. This was about 2 minutes before the bell rang to let the kids out for the day.
So then, the bell rang, and some of the kids started exiting the school. The old man came back out of the school and waited for the children he was picking up and avoided eye contact with me.
My son came out of the doors and so I went up to meet him and we were on our way home, when behind us, the Vice Principal of the school was running up to me to talk to me.
He said to me"You aren't allowed to smoke outside of the school." I just sort of stared at him for a moment, I would think someone of his stature would have a little more tact than the old man did when dealing with a parent of a child at his school, or the general public. Apparently they don't hire these people for their communication skills.
I told him I would continue to smoke if I choose to, and there was nothing he could do about it. He then said "Well, we'll see about that" and he trudged his way back to school.
Wow! Well the Vice principal is a short stocky man, probably a good 80 pounds overweight. I wonder if anyone ever accosts him, and tells him that because he is so fat, that he is a bad influence on the children. I wonder if any of the kids at that school would decide to overeat and become a big fat pig like the vice principal in the future, and therefore be at a much higher risk of diabetes and heart issues?
Welcome to the Nanny State, a little zone outside an Elementary School, in Dartmouth, where over-zealous citizens feel the need to make up laws on the spot to suit their own particular views on life.