Smoking ignites parent anger

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By Jim Purnell

Parents want smokers lighting cigarettes beside Ryerson’s playground to butt out.

Despite three no smoking signs, about 30 cigarette butts lie on the ground near the Early Learning Centre playground every evening.

“Smokers don’t care,” said Christopher Wood, whose 13-month-old daughter Silvan plays near the West Kerr Hall entrance favoured by smokers. “They just want their fix as they step outside.”

Wood, a former smoker, is concerned about the nicotine in the cigarette butts because his daughter loves to put thing she finds in her mouth.

Another concern is the cigarette butts the frequently blow into the playground.

The preschoolers could easily choke on or swallow a cigarette butt, said Katrina Hughes, co-ordinator of the Early Learning Centre.

While groundskeepers sweep the sidewalk leading to Kerr Hall every morning, Hughes said it is unrealistic for them to keep the area constantly free of cigarette butts.

Two five-year-olds at the centre have started an anti-smoking crusade. Hughes said they are laughed at when they ask smokers to stop smoking outside their playground.

Many smokers say they don’t see the signs.

Others, like Ryerson student Viki Eric, say they don’t smoke when children are in the playground.

To lure people away from the playground, the university moved the ashtray from the doorway and the sign were put up.

Julia Lewis, manager of the office of occupational health and safety, said it would be difficult to enforce a ban on smoking outside.

“It is the attitude of the smokers that needs to change,” she said.

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