USMC Considers a New Smoke-Free Policy
Preliminary surveys indicate support for smoking ban
Amaial Mullick ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
On January 1, 2019, the University of Toronto (U of T) instated a campus-wide smoking ban. This new Smoke-Free Policy was approved by the Governing Council on December 13, 2018, a policy that had not been revised since 1995.
In light of the Government of Ontario’s legislation to allow smoking of cannabis within public spaces, conversations were held concerning the risks of second-hand smoke. The ban applies to tobacco products, cannabis, e-cigarettes, as well as vaping devices. There will be temporary “smoking sections” designated around campus as the push is made toward a smoke-free environment.
The Mike reached out to President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) David Sylvester to outline USMC’s stance in regards to the new policy, and how students will be affected by the college’s ultimate decision. Sylvester was able to clarify that due to USMC’s independent governance and affiliation terms with the University of Toronto, the college does not abide by the policy but rather is autonomous in deciding their own terms.
“The process was triggered by University of Toronto’s decision but we have a separate governing structure at St. Michaels we have our own board,” Sylvester said. “St. Michaels is academically federated with the University but much of what happens here is up to the community.”
USMC has launched a survey for all students, hoping to gain feedback about the student community’s views on a smoking ban and permitted smoking areas on USMC grounds. The three-minute questionnaire collects views, suggestions, and concerns. It is a part of the college’s strategy as they have begun their own consultation process with students and employee groups. A new policy would be drafted based on response of the community and approval from St. Michael’s Board of Collegian.
There are a number of points raised by the questionnaire and by students as a response to the new policy. For instance, the designation of smoking zones and the enforcement of the ordinance. Students are also being questioned as to whether they feel smoking on campus is a health hazard, and a point of contention for which they feel a ban is necessary. As per the preliminary responses, there has been general support for the enactment of a smoking ban at USMC. Overall, while students are not concerned with strong enforcement and penalties for non-compliance, they do urge education on the risks related to smoking within public areas. According to the initial responses, students at USMC also favour support and resources for peers attempting to quit.
“Preliminary responses show students are not leaning towards a strong enforcement of a smoking ban but do support the idea of one at St. Michaels,” Sylvester elaborated. “But, rather than punishments, students support education and raising awareness and help for their peers that do identify as smokers.”
This feedback and consultation is still in its initial stages as the college carries out various mediums of conversation to understand the communities’ perspective on a new policy. The survey can be filled out here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/6NBGPLL until Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Students are encouraged to complete the survey so that their opinions and concerns can be heard by the officials ultimately responsible for designing a USMC Smoking Policy.