Spaces and Places and Smoking; Questioning the Designated Smoking Areas and Purchasing Locations

Beginning in 1994, Canadian provinces began banning the sales of tobacco products in places that include a pharmacy. Every province except British Columbia. Unlike other provinces, the B.C. government has decided not to change the laws to prohibit these tobacco sales. Pharmacies are locations allocated to people’s health and well-being, an image tarnished by the presence of tobacco; however, studies also indicate that people do not associate tobacco with health related pharmaceutical products even if they are located within a pharmacy.

Is there a socially acceptable normative location for tobacco sales? A cigarette has the same number of toxins whether you buy it at a corner store or a pharmacy location, so the question becomes one of association. Is it more likely that someone will associate a cigarette with harm if its location is less credible? If someone can buy a cigarette in a store that also has a pharmacy, would someone perhaps see the cigarette as being less harmful? Or is there no correlation?

The places for smokers to use tobacco products have become increasingly taboo over the last decade. The designated smoking areas have become less available, and restrictions on tobacco purchasing have become stricter as the harmful effects of tobacco have become more widely known. Society has declared the space of smoking to be as equal in toxicity as the cigarette itself. This means that the air around that space is viewed, figuratively and literally, as less clean and it is not a positive space, but instead, the smokers pit has become a recognizable space for tobacco users to huddle in masses. Does this socially constructed space of toxic rebellion and smoky rejection add to the appeal of smoking to new youth smokers? Is there something alluring about the space of smoking as opposed to the act of smoking itself? Is there a way to dismantle the allure of this space? Is there a way to illustrate the idea that not only is the act of ‘not cool’ because of its negative health effects, but also that the allure of the spaces of smoking is illusory.

-Michelle Barron

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