smoking crack ttc

Here's what to do if you encounter someone smoking crack on the TTC

You don't have to look around too hard to witness evidence of the ongoing addiction and mental health crisis in Toronto, and sometimes all it takes is a ride on the TTC to see the tragic impacts of chemical dependency in full force.

A video making the rounds on social media since the weekend shows a man casually smoking what appears to either be crack cocaine or crystal meth on a TTC bus, triggering a barrage of comments criticizing the user.

Reactions on social media don't exactly show much empathy for the person — who may be experiencing mental health issues — shown lighting a globe-shaped pipe while aboard the transit vehicle.

An alarming number of comments openly advocate for violence against drug users in tweets I am unwilling to include here. I guess that's Space Karen's idea of "free speech" on the new Twitter.

Most people seem particularly incensed at the way the man seems to intentionally exhale the smoke toward other passengers.

But a quick search of the topic revealed that this was far from the first instance of open drug use recorded on the TTC. It's actually been happening regularly for years.

In 2015, a crack user was confronted by passengers after trying to light up on a bus. But it seems that 2019 was a particularly bad year for drug use accounts from transit vehicles.

Even when bystander passengers aren't faced with an unwelcome contact high, it's got to be jarring to witness the rider across the aisle from you casually smoking up, like this other tweet from 2019.

Passengers are understandably distressed when faced with this kind of behaviour during their commutes, but it's important to note that there are often bigger unseen factors at play, like mental health and a lack of housing and other supports for underhoused persons.

Another clip captured in spring 2022 shows a man sitting alone on a subway train lighting up a similar globe-shaped pipe believed to contain crack or meth.

The TTC's Stuart Green tells blogTO that while the transit agency doesn't have any details on the most recent incident making the rounds on social media, he stresses that "safety and security are our top concern."

Green advises that, if faced with a similar encounter, "we remind customers not to engage, but rather report it immediately so we can properly address it."

"That can be done by pushing the yellow emergency strip on every vehicle or by reporting discretely through the SafeTTC app. We have Special Constables who can respond and, if needed, we will engage with TPS."

Green explains that "smoking/vaping anything on the TTC is obviously against our bylaws, and we will handle offences on a case-by-case basis," but reminds the public — including those reacting with hateful comments on social media — that "there may also be mental health or addiction issues involved in certain cases that require an appropriate response."

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