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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

  • Smoke-free law touches campus
  • Smoking experts applaud new law
  • Staff general meeting is tomorrow
  • Happening today and in June
Chris Redmond

Today would no longer exist

[Little girls in yellow and orange]

Rehearsals are under way in the Humanities Theatre for this spring's performance by the the Carousel Dance Centre, based in East Campus Hall. Some 450 dancers, aged 5 to 18, will be part of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", Saturday at 1:00 and 6:30, Sunday at 12:30 and 5:00. Tickets: 888-4908.

Smoke-free law touches campus

There's one immediate change to UW's smoking regulations as the Smoke-Free Ontario Act goes into effect today across the province.

"Smoking is no longer permitted in the Needles Hall parking garage," says Kevin Stewart, director of safety, adding that UW's Smoking Guidelines "have been revised accordingly".

The new law will be a bigger shock in some parts of the province than in Waterloo Region, where smoking in restaurants and bars has been banned for five years now. But it's tougher than the previous rules in various respects, and there's already been much public talk about its ban on smoking on covered patios -- the same section that would apply to the NH parking garage, which is roofed but open at the side.

Stewart notes the key provision in the new law: "No person shall smoke tobacco or hold lighted tobacco in any enclosed public place or enclosed workplace." A workplace includes employer-owned vehicles, he notes.

The safety director says a subcommittee of UW's Main Campus Joint Health and Safety Committee is reviewing UW Policy 29 -- Smoking on University Premises -- and related issues. A report is expected for the June 26 meeting of the committee. "The review will include the designated no smoking entrances and alternate smoking areas which are intended minimize exposure to second hand smoke. Government background information states that, for health and safety reasons, smoking in alternate smoking areas should be at least nine metres from building entrances, windows and ventilation systems."

On this week's list from the human resources department:

  • Assistant director, engineering, co-operative education and career services, USG 12
  • Employer advisor, co-operative education and career services, USG 4/5
  • Facilities manager, athletics and recreational services, USG 10
  • Web developer, student life office, USG 8

    Longer descriptions are available on the HR web site.

  • Smoking experts applaud new law -- from the UW media relations office

    Two leading UW experts in smoking, one focusing on the impacts of tobacco control policies throughout the world and the other on smoking cessation, are applauding Ontario-wide restrictions that come into effect this week. Geoff Fong and Paul McDonald believe new smoking regulations will save lives.

    McDonald, who co-directs the Population Health Research Group, says the new regulations that take effect today are a positive step forward and long overdue. "I have absolutely no doubt that the new regulations will improve and protect thousands of lives over the coming decades."

    He believes the regulations will have three key impacts. First, they will protect smokers and non-smokers from second-hand smoke, which may be more dangerous than previously thought. Second, they will assist current tobacco users to quit or to reduce the amount they smoke. Third, the restrictions lessen the visibility of smoking, which studies have shown influence whether or not young people smoke. But McDonald stopped short of calling the regulations anything more than a first step. "While I applaud the government of Ontario for implementing the new regulations, there is still more that can and must be done."

    Fong, a psychology professor who is leading key aspects of the first international cohort study of tobacco use, called the regulations "a superb advance for public health in Ontario." They offer more uniformed protection than did municipally based rules, which protect some citizens and leave others vulnerable.

    Fong finds it an appropriate way to mark World No Tobacco Day, created in 1988 by the World Health Organization. He also finds it a fitting way to remember a waitress who just lost her very public fight to raise awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke. "Heather Crowe became the public face of all those put at risk by second-hand smoke in the workplace," said Fong. "She recently lost her fight against cancer. This seems like an appropriate way to honour her."

    Fong is a leading world expert on the impact of tobacco control policies, focusing on such areas as smoke-free laws, warning labels, advertising and promotion restrictions, and taxation. He recently received $4.1 million from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to further his efforts over the next five years. He is the chief principal investigator of the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project (ITC Project), the first international cohort study of tobacco use. The collaboration involves more than 40 researchers in nine countries with nearly half of the world's smokers.

    Fong has presented his research to high-level policy audiences throughout the world. He presented to the World Health Organization this past February, before an audience of policymakers from more than 50 countries that have ratified the first-ever international health treaty, which is devoted to tobacco control policies.

    McDonald works with partners in the public and private sectors to identify and evaluate methods for reducing the health and economic burdens of tobacco use. His research includes the development of a national strategy to help current smokers, the development and evaluation of a new tool to triage smokers into different types of cessation treatment, and the development of smoking prevention and cessation resources for youth.

    Staff general meeting is tomorrow

    The Staff Association will hold its annual general meeting tomorrow, with "light breakfast" at 8:45 and business starting at 9 a.m., and the university's senior management is urging members to attend "and their managers to allow them appropriate time off to do so".

    Says associate provost Catharine Scott: "It may be that staff and managers don't understand the importance of supporting the Staff Association, and a general meeting can be a great way to see what this group accomplishes on behalf of staff each year."

    The agenda for the general meeting (to be held in Davis Centre room 1302) includes an opportunity to find out some of the things the association has achieved in 2005-06, as it reviews a set of reports that were posted on the association's web site a few weeks ago to give members a chance to read them.

    The reports note, for example, that in the Staff Relations Committee, where association leaders meet with UW management, work is nearly finished on "a complete overhaul and rewriting" of Policy 18, the rules governing hiring, recruitment, termination and other aspects of staff employment at Waterloo. "The final draft of the revised policy will be available for viewing in the next few months," a report says.

    On another page, the Committee of Inquiry on Staff Grievance notes that two formal written grievances were filed this year. "One resulted in an oral hearing/meeting with the parties. The other was declined on the basis that it was not within a hearing committee's mandate to effect the resolution sought."

    Tomorrow's meeting will be asked to approve an increase in association dues, from the present $3.50 a month to $5, with some of the new revenue used to allow the Waterloo association to join the Confederation of Ontario University Staff Associations.

    [Howells] And the meeting will see some results from a "workplace satisfaction survey" of staff. "The responses will be summarized," the May issue of the association newsletter promises, "and the results just might surprise you! Find out what we like about UW and what we aren't so happy about."

    For Stephen Markan of the information systems and technology department, the meeting marks the end of a year as association president. He'll continue on the executive for 2006-07 while Joe Szalai of the library moves from president-elect to president. The association's new president-elect will be Carrie Howells (right) of the school of computer science.

    Members have elected Nelson Carrillos (key control, plant operations) and Cathy Jardine (graduate studies office) to fill two directors' positions on the executive committee. Joining them on the executive are Nancy Poole (health studies and gerontology) as secretary, Sue Fraser (kinesiology) as vice-president, and Stephen Sempson (faculty of science) as treasurer, as well as continuing directors Maureen Stafford (electrical and computer engineering) and Andy Newman (plant operations).

    Career workshops: "Interview Skills: Preparing for Questions" 3:30, Tatham Centre room 1208; "Starting Your Own Business: Next Steps" 4:30, Tatham room 2218; registration online.

    Tim Horton's, Student Life Centre: "Pre-meeting" 3:30, Student Life Centre, organized by Federation of Students; Food Advisory Board, 4:30, Village I, to discuss summer hours for Tim's.

    Microsoft tech talk: "CAF Programming Platform", Thursday 7 p.m., Davis Centre room 1302.

    School of architecture presents Steven Vogel, Duke University zoologist, speaking on "Natural Design", Thursday 7 p.m., Architecture lecture hall.

    UW alumni in Ottawa social and networking evening, with speaker Eva Kmiecic of United Way of Canada, Friday at Market's Empire Grill, details online.

    You @ Waterloo Day open house for students considering coming to UW this fall, Saturday 10:00 to 2:00.

    Annual trade show sponsored by Procurement and Contract Services: computer suppliers June 6, office supplies June 7, Davis Centre lounge.

    Happening today and in June

    "An exhibition and information awareness day on social development initiatives" is being held today in the Student Life Centre, sponsored by a newly-formed group called Udai, along with the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. Udai was started by students at the University of California, San Diego, last year, and a Waterloo chapter was formed in January, organizers say. Today's event, titled Odyssey, "will showcase a broad range of issues including education initiatives, fair trade and its impact and health awareness. Udai will display their current and upcoming projects in addition to promoting awareness on the aforementioned topics. Seven Shores, a Kitchener-based vendor for art merchandise, will be setting up their stall with articles from all over the world, while another local organization, Opportunities Waterloo Region, will present their community development activities in the Waterloo region. Among the projects, KnowledgeBridge is a literacy initiative that seeks to promote literacy in South Asia by providing books, toys and other educational media." Odyssey will also include displays on the cultural heritage of some developing nations. Things run from 10:00 to 5:30 today in the great hall of the SLC.

    Romy Shioda of UW's department of combinatorics and optimization sends word that C&O, along with the Mathematics Endowment Fund, is sponsoring an Operations Research Contest this summer. "In this contest," she writes, "students can win cash prizes by modeling and solving a business optimization problem inspired by a past consulting engagement with a local company. This will be a great opportunity for students to experience how mathematics can impact corporate decision making. The contest is open to all UW undergraduate students and will be held from June 1 to June 30. Operations Research is the field of using mathematical modeling tools for complex decision making. The impact of OR includes enhanced scheduling for airline crews and sports games, improved production and distribution efficiency for manufacturing companies, increased service quality and efficiency in healthcare administration, and development of sophisticated tools for finance and investments. The purpose of this contest is to expose students to OR problems and how mathematical modeling can make practical impact. The contest problem will require an understanding of basic optimization theory, ability to comprehend and formulate the business issues, and computationally implement the model to achieve a solution efficiently. Given that the problem was inspired by an actual consulting engagement, it would give students a taste of how OR techniques are used in industry." Details about the contest -- and its $1,000 first prize -- are online.

    The 18th annual Waterloo NMR Summer School gets under way today, running through June 9. "The NMR Summer School was founded by Mik Pintar in 1969," a web site explains, "and organized every alternate year since then. The school consists of lectures given by experts in the field, and will cover topics, ranging from fundamental concepts in NMR to recent advances and applications in the fields of medicine, biology, chemistry and physics. The School, of about 80 participants, makes available a forum for young NMR researchers as well as expert NMR spectroscopists, for discussion of NMR and applications at all levels, in both a lecture and informal setting. This format has been very successful and appreciated, in particular by the young NMR Scientists." Participants are staying in Ron Eydt Village and attending sessions in the Physics building -- with a break or two for social activities, including a canoe outing that's planned for all day Sunday.

    The "projects review" showing off work by UW architecture students has been on display in the Design at Riverside gallery in the Architecture building since mid-April, and will end this Saturday. . . . The organization Impact has announced "Canada's largest student-run entrepreneurship event", to bring some 2,000 visitors to the Davis Centre on September 30. . . . Hip-hop is so big this summer that the campus recreation program has added a second class in that dance and exercise form, to run on eight Thursday evenings starting June 8. . . .


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