Thursday, April 25, 2013

Aww, I hurt the smoker's feelings

This morning I made my return to the big commute (only coughed once on the bus) and decided to bring along my surgical mask to protect my lungs from the Oshawa cancer club who meet each morning at the bank of Presto machines at Oshawa GO.
I'm recovering from bronchitis and cigarette smoke can trigger the mother of all coughing fits.
I'm also asthmatic.
I guess my appearance was upsetting to one regular lady smoker who muttered she found me "offensive" as I pushed past her to tap my card. I'm tired of excusing myself to these people. They have acres of parking lot to pollute but instead pollute the air near the entrance to the platforms.
I didn't respond or engage. Once I was passed her, I made sure she saw me remove the mask. She saw me put it on while I approached the machine so she knew exactly the point I was trying to make.
The sense of entitlement exhibited by her, who is a regular of the club, is nauseating.
Two weeks ago, GO Transit told me and their Twitter followers that the smoking infraction situation at Oshawa would be addressed. Last night I learned that dozens of passengers had been forced out into the rain because people were smoking in the bus shelters. This is unacceptable.
GO Transit doesn't care about my safety or my comfort as a passenger.
Their inaction about this problem, which is rampant at all their stations, proves that GO merely provides lip service and that's not good enough.


ea said...

sorry cj, but you lose this round. there are no signs near that part of the platform. i know oshawa well. the smokers have every right to be there. what GO needs to do is move the machines onto the platforms. plus having those newspaper boxes right near the machines is stupid logistically, the crowd that forms between those tapping and those pulling out newspapers is ridiculous and clunky.
if you ask me, that's the real problem. not the smokers.

C.J. Smith said...

Respectfully, I disagree. The smokers do not have a "right" to be there.
There are signs. There just aren't enough of them and that's part of the problem.
I can tell you that moving the machines onto the platform won't solve the smoking situation as people smoke on the platforms. They smoke everywhere: in front of the stations doors, in front of the platform entrance, in the shelters, in line for buses and on the bus platforms. There's no escaping them sometimes.
I always make sure to thank the smokers who smoke in the parking lot (once they are done their cigarette) or away from the station doors.
Common courtesy doesn't exist any more and that's the real problem here.
As for the logistics comment, I will give you that. The newspaper boxes being right in the middle of two Presto machines is a cumbersome placement.

FRED said...

I didn't realize this issue was about "winning". It's about the law. Ignorant elephants come marching in, I see.

Anonymous said...

The smokers suck.

kim said...

I've complained to GO Transit many times about the smokers in the shelters. I even called enforcement and waited an hour for them to arrive only to give up and leave.
GO hasn't cared about the smoking by-laws ever.
Why even bother having the law?
Plus, it's not fair to those who do obey. If I was a smoker, I'd be pissed.

Anonymous said...

Why not just choose a different route?

C.J. Smith said...

There's only one way in to get the train at Oshawa.
I could climb the fence and cross the track. I bet that would get security's attention.

Skin Man said...

I gave my head a shake to the asshat smoking on the platform at Aldershot this morning, and asked another smoker to butt out about 1-2 months back....the response I usually get is...."why, is this bothering you?" It doesn't matter if it's bothering might be bothering many just don't do it!


C.J. Smith said...

I don't understand the "Why? Is this bothering you?" retort.
I've had several smokers say this to me. I wouldn't be asking you to stop if I enjoyed smelling you smoke that cigarette.

Squiggles said...

The sense of entitlement from smokers continually astounds me. I know there are some considerate smokers out there, but they are outnumbered 100-to-1, at least.

I have come across these entitled people smoking on platforms at Union Station, Ajax and even bus turnarounds. The number and location of signs doesn't matter. If they want to smoke, they will. They have the "right" to smoke where they want outside. Some even get offensive and demand to know when it became illegal to do so.

Anyway, good for you CJ. And as much as it sucks, at least you have realised that GO just doesn't care. And with all their new service announcements and customer service campaigns this has become even more obvious.

Linda said...

Tuesday night my husband and I were coming back from Toronto and waiting on Platform 5 at Union when this group of men came up the stairs and immediately lit up cigarettes and right under the No Smoking sign.
Five of them were smoking. People were upset, especially this woman holding an infant. She walked downstairs to complain. When she came back up she told my husband and I that customer service told her to wait in the concourse to avoid the smokers.
WAIT IN THE CONCOURSE? The train had already been called.
Since when were people so afraid of smokers and since when do these people who skirt the law have the upper hand? I was outraged.
The signs clearly say "Violators will be prosecuted". It's all just a farce.
GO Transit hasn't trained their employees in how to deal with smokers. They always tell those bothered by them to avoid them.
It's ridiculous.
I'm not sure what can be done to fight back.

C.J. Smith said...

I'm working out a strategy. It may involve pitchforks and torches.

Anonymous said...

Strategy? How about a sprinkler system that douses the offenders with water? Where there's smoke, there's fire...right?

Maleesa said...

You're only sensitive to this because you're sick and that's understandable.
The only way this war will ever end is when cigarettes cease to exist and considering the taxes generated from their sale, that will be a cold day in Hell.
Keep the mask. Use it. The government won't protect us from smokers and certainly not the provincial government. They don't enforce the by-laws on their transit system because they need the smokers' money. Period.

MATT said...

I think that GO almost takes the approach to smoking that they do to fares and “quiet zones”...the rules for each are in place, but, by-and-large they are self-enforced by the users. GO expects people to self-monitor the quiet zones; they expect people to dutifully pay their fares prior to proceeding to platform level (and this commuter does) regardless of whether enforcement is there to do a fare inspection; clearly they also expect people to smoke in appropriate areas. It’s shameful that the only rule that GO seems intent on randomly enforcing is one which involves money. I personally wouldn’t care if they fine the entitled smokers or not; just make them move. I’d have no issue with a “halo” painted on the ground indicating where you could (or could not) smoke. Using a 3-metre radius from access points like doors or platform stairs, like many downtown buildings use, would probably be sufficient.

And this is coming from a long-time smoker. I realize what I do with my lungs and my body is MY choice; some smokers need to realize that their “right” to smoke doesn’t mean they can subject people who have chosen not to smoke to their bad habit because they can’t be bothered to employ a little common courtesy.

TT said...

Signs are not necessary, GO Transit bylaws say smoking is prohibited anywhere on GO Transit property. Maybe Oshawa is a grey area since they share the station with VIA, not sure who owns it.

The underlying issue is GO doesn't want to spend more on enforcement officers. There not enough of them for the current size of the system.

Taylor said...

Quite a few of the GO employees who man the Exhibition Station will call out the smokers over the PA system ("There is no smoking on GO property"). Why can't the staff at Oshawa do the same? They have cameras inside like at the EX (that's how they see them most of the time).

Peter said...

Here you go, CJ; throw this in their face

and call DRPS 905-579-1520 (toll free 1-888-579-1520).

C.J. Smith said...

I'm on it.

Squiggles said...

I read through the By-Law and I don't think it will help your case. It only specifies ON a public transit vehicle or in a public place (ie. building atrium). There is nothing there about platforms and such.

Though, depending on what the Smoke-Free Ontario Act states, the call to the cops might be better. But it will also be a lost cause. They will take longer to arrive at the station then it takes to pass through the haze.

Oh, and Linda: I had someone spark up a doobie ON the train. Had I not been getting ready to disembark, I would have hit the yellow strip.

Anonymous said...

GO doesn't give a shit about smoking anywhere. People regularly smoke on the LSE trains now. Yes, on the trains. I went to a conductor and he said "what do you want me to do about it?". Don't kid yourself; smoking IS tacitly allowed on GO now.

Anonymous said...

I saw two of the 7:28 Oshawa to Union train engineers smoking on the platform by the engine car at the head of the train last week. If I had a decent mobile phone with a camera I would have snapped a photo.

FRED said...

I don't think it matters to anyone at this point.
It looks like this is a war non-smokers will lose.
All that's left is public shaming.

Anonymous said...


Really? So how are people like CJ (who are asthmatic and allergic to smoke) suppposed to tap on at the Presto machine?

She has no choice but to walk through that cloud of smoke. There is no reason you self-entitled smokers can't move 20 ft so that we aren't forced to inhale your poison.

Peter said...

@Squiggles: Within the meaning of ss. 150 and 173(1)(a) of the Criminal Code, a "public place" is defined in s. 150 as "any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied". "Access" means "the right or opportunity to reach or use or visit".

@CJ: I defer to your esteemed team of cattorneys.

mumzthewurd said...

What if Go, periodically, used their enforcement officers to ticket illegally parked cars and fine smokers? They would make mega $$ - that's what. And it would be easy, smokers tend to be really bad runners. How long does it take to inspect a whole train and how many fair evaders do they catch? Compare that to a morning handing out fines to smokers while they wait for the last train to leave. Then they swep the parking lot. It's easy pickins.

deepfish said...

I've been quiet on this for a while. We got a new car and I've only been using GO intermittently.
Last week I was at GO early and the stench was unbearable, even though there was only one smoker in evidence - right by the door, right under a no smoking sign.
There is NO enforcement. I have become convinced, by experience and news from reliable sources, that this is not about allocating scarce enforcement officers, or overloaded work or logistics. This is a conscious policy arrived at , perhaps at even the highest levsls of GO, NOT to enforce the policy and NOT to discomfort entitled smokers.
The fine for smoking is set at $45 dollars. There have been periods of time when I have been at a GO station where a pair of enforcement officers could make upwards of 2000 bucks in a one hour period. The smoking is regular, visible and plentiful. This is just at one station.
But my sources told me that Health and Safety Officials at GO were advised by Enforcement people at their own level that the unwritten policy is NOT to enforce the bylaws at all, if possible, and to only enforce pro forma and intermittently on compplaints.
This may well have served the need and aim of not ticking off regular clientele (smoking GO passengers are creatures of habit, donchaknow) when smokers made up 30% or even 20% of clientele... But adult smoking levels are down in th e15% range.
The consequences of that are twofold: the 15% left are majority bull goose looney severely addicted and self-entitled idjits; and the number of people like CJ and myself who are medically compromised by exposure to nic smoke may soon outnumber the butt suckers...
Very soon there will come a realization that a tipping point has occurred. GO will not be able to go along to get along on this one for much longer...

Anonymous said...

Today over a year from your original post I saw GO enforcement officers TICKETING smokers and all I can say is IT"S ABOUT TIME!!!

C.J. Smith said...