McMaster University to become first smoke-free campus in Ontario

Sep 18 2017, 11:54 pm

You’ll be able to breathe easy anywhere at McMaster University starting January 1, 2018.

That’s when the post-secondary institute will implement its 100% tobacco and smoke-free policy, making it the first campus to do so in Ontario.

Tobacco and all oral smoking devices will be prohibited on the Hamilton campus, inside and on the grounds of the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington, and at all McMaster-owned properties.

While the campus wide policy will be strict, the university says it recognizes the unique relationship that many Indigenous cultures have with traditional and sacred medicines, so exemptions to this policy will be granted, upon request, to members of the McMaster University community.

“McMaster is globally recognized for its commitment to innovation and advancing health and societal wellbeing through our research, teaching and community service,” said president Patrick Deane in a release. “A tobacco and smoke-free campus is the next important step towards fulfilling our responsibilities as educators, healthcare professionals and to the communities we serve.”

The school says that by designating the campus tobacco and smoke-free, the University is creating an environment promoting health and wellness that ensures students, faculty, staff and visitors are not exposed to tobacco and smoking products, which includes second-hand smoke.

“Tobacco cessation is the single most important change a person can make to improve their overall health,” said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health. “Stopping tobacco use and not being subject to second-hand smoke help prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke and cancer while improving quality of life. McMaster is congratulated on taking this very important and meaningful step.”

According to McMaster, tobacco and smoke-free environments are effective at motivating people towards quitting. And starting in September, there will be a variety of free cessation programs and resources will also be offered to members of the school community.

“This change will have different implications for the diverse communities across our campus. As we all manage this transition, it is important that the University’s resources cater to the cultural and mental wellbeing of these communities, and that everyone is aware of these supports throughout this process,” said McMaster Students Union’s Ryan Deshpande.

Starting in January, the school will have a phased-in enforcement of the tobacco and smoke-free designation.

The announcement comes on the same day the Ontario Government introduced its new laws surrounding smoking pot while driving.

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