Photo | Hana Nikcevic
On September 20th, 2017, Metro News reported that the University of Toronto was working on a proposal that would follow suit with McMaster University’s complete smoking ban on their campus, effective January 1st, 2018. According to a spokesperson for the University of Toronto, Metro News stated that the details of this campus smoke ban is unknown because it has yet to go through the university’s governance procedure.
Initially, I was surprised by the initiative on UofT’s part, but that reaction quickly dissolved and turned to skepticism.
Theoretically, the complete ban of smoking benefits much of the student population. It goes without saying that many students are tired of having puffs of smoke blown in their faces when walking to class. Robarts Library, Sidney Smith Hall, and Convocation Hall are a few areas on campus where smokers pollute the space and air before and after classes.
In the past, implementing a smoking ban was proven to be beneficial. In 2010, <i>The Globe and Mail<i> reported that the decline in was allegedly due to the smoking ban that restaurants enforced in the city of Toronto. The positive effect of implementing a smoking ban on UofT grounds will be celebrated among student environmental activists, future doctors, and non-smokers alike.
But just how feasible is this ban? The UofT St. George campus occupies a large portion of downtown Toronto, and yet, the university is naïvely proposing for a complete ban on smoking in its parameters. Areas like King’s College are the university’s private property, but what about places on campus that intersect with the city’s public spaces?
Unlike UofT, McMaster University’s campus is tightly packed away in a corner near Cootes Paradise, enclosed by Main Street, and secluded from the larger downtown area of Hamilton. The boundary between the university’s property and the city’s property is relatively clear; the logistics are not as complex as UofT’s.
More importantly, the smoking ban is only a plan—a tentative, developing proposal. It has yet to be approved or voted on by the UofT board. While some Canadian post-secondary institutions have tried their hands at securing a similar ban, not every school has successfully done so. McMaster is only the 14th Canadian university to partake in this movement. Meanwhile, back in 2009, York University intended to mark its 50th anniversary with a complete smoke ban, but it was not implemented.
Implementing an all-campus smoking ban will ensure the safety of the UofT community, and help the university to move away from policies that contribute to climate change and increasing levels of greenhouse gases. Let us see whether the university will rise to the challenge.