Smoke like Gzowski

You probably heard about the National Post/Global exposé on the CBC’s smoking rooms. Came close on the heels of the taping of the Deal or No Deal craptravaganza, didn’t it?

One minute public and private broadcasters were smoking and wheezing in harmony on the 10th floor, the next minute Global is pulling back the curtain and showing how lonely, desolate, and out-of-focus life at the Dream Factory can get:
All in good fun, I suppose. Most people got a good laugh out of it, especially the smokers themselves, who laughed so hard it escalated into a racking cough that terminated with the production and expulsion of an oyster-sized loogie.

But no one mentioned that it was Peter Gzowski, host of Morningside and author of How to Quit Smoking in 50 Years or Less, who didn’t have enough time during his broadcasts to go down the elevator and outside for a smoke, who demanded that the 3rd floor smoking room be built. CBC lore has it that it was stipulated in his contract.

Let’s face it. This place was built on cigarettes, coffee, and the concealed mickey.

But this is 2007 and a different time. We’ve got sushi in the building yet nowhere to get a martini. There’s still no cure for cancer and Gzowski himself died of emphysema, a stark reminder that in contract negotiations, even when you think you “win,” in the end you most certainly “lose.”

Which is probably why the much-hated Real Estate department has quietly written policy guidelines for the decommissioning of CBC smoking rooms. It states that “smoking room space will be prioritized as prime space available for all churn and space planning initiatives” and that “all smoking rooms requiring maintenance will be closed.”

In other words, the smoking rooms are to die a slow, painful death. Much like the smokers themselves.

So smoke ’em gently, my nicotine-stained, phlegmatic brothers and sisters. It’s the dawning of a new era and these smoking rooms are fragile beasts on the verge of extinction.

Show them some love. Bring a can of WD-40 on your next smoke break, and give the fans and the hinges a squirt on the way out.


  1. Jay
    Posted March 25, 2007 at 7:58 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    This was quite possibly the grossest piece of enlightenment I’ve ever read.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 4:14 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    “the concealed mickey”?? Ask any old-timer and they’ll tell you of the good ol’ days of 2-4’s at work and full-on liquid dinners at the Red Lion.

    You can’t smoke on the roof because the Corp is terrified you’d fall off and sue from your wheelchair. Oh, and it’s freaking cold.

  3. Dwight Williams
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 4:13 pm | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    I’m sure that there’s a Health Canada or Environment Canada regulation on the subject. Or Ontario Ministry of Health. Not sure which it is.

    Good to see you back in action, Ouimet!

  4. Anonymous
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 8:19 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Why not let ppl smoke on the roof?

  5. John Mutford
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 8:16 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    A can of WD-40 and a room full of lit cigarettes? The end maybe closer than they think.

  6. mike
    Posted March 22, 2007 at 8:05 am | # | Reply to this masterpiece

    Ok Ouimet. I just found your site through reference from the excellent site of john gushue.

    You’ve been bookmarked!! Staying there is up to you.

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