Representatives from UofT’s media relations department have confirmed that the university is developing a new policy that would ban smoking on campus.
UofT’s smoking policy was last updated in 1995. This policy was mandated by provincial legislation and municipal bylaws, and outlines research that has shown the impact of secondhand smoke on non-smokers. Many things have changed since this policy was last updated; according to this policy, smoking is still allowed inside residence buildings, as long as they have been granted status as a “Designated Smoking Area.”
The decision to rehaul the university’s smoking policy follows the implementation of a no tolerance smoking policy at McMaster University, scheduled to take effect on January 1st, 2018. McMaster, however, is not the first university in Canada to adopt a policy such as this one. Dalhousie University, Acadia University, and the University of Winnipeg, among others, have already committed to a 100 percent smoke-free campus. A more extensive list of post-secondary institutions can be found through the Canadian Cancer Society.
Roberta Ferrence, Adjunct Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at UofT and Principal Investigator and Scientific Advisor for the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, asserts that while they do have their limits, “smoking bans have been generally very effective in protecting non-smokers.”
Some have raised concerns about the logistical possibility of implementing such a ban on a campus as large as UofT St. George.
“It is certainly feasible to implement a campus ban,” Ferrence says, “It has been done elsewhere and should be easier as fewer students smoke, and smoking cigarettes has become more unacceptable, particularly indoors.”
Ferrence points to other institutions as evidence of these policies at work: “There are now many smoke-free hospitals, including psychiatric hospitals where the majority of patients smoke, that have developed implementation plans and involved smokers in the process.”
UofT’s 1995 Smoking Policy states that, “The University will provide smoking cessation workshops on campus if there is sufficient demand.” If a policy banning smoking is to be put in place, Ferrence suggests that, “providing help with smoking cessation is often a key component for such bans.”