The University of Toronto has a proposed smoking ban that will be implemented starting January 1, 2019.

The ban will apply to the smoking of lighted tobacco or cannabis, as well as the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices on campus. Indigenous ceremonial activities and medical conditions will be accommodated for.

In an article released by the university, Vice-President of Human Resources and Equity Kelly Hannah-Moffat stated, “The main motivation for this policy is to have healthier campuses. The health hazards of smoking and second-hand smoke are well documented.”

The university’s smoking policy has not been updated since 1995, in which it states that Designated Smoking Areas may be permitted in residences and the campus pub. The policy also states that “residents in single rooms (and their guests) may smoke in the room, provided the door is closed.”

According to the policy, “studies conducted around the world show a statistically significant correlation between lung cancer and involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke.” As well, exposure to second-hand smoke “increases the prevalence of acute respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and exacerbates existing health conditions such as heart disease, asthma, allergies” and cystic fibrosis, among others.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, “smoking causes about 30% of all cancer deaths and approximately 85% of lung cancer deaths.”

The ban comes after the Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning (Sheridan College), which has a joint-program with UTM, adopted a smoke-free policy last month.

U of T plans to offer support to faculty and staff through the not-for-profit organization Green Shield, which provides a smoking-cessation program, including some drug coverage and pharmacist counselling.

The new smoking-ban policy will give the separate U of T campuses the opportunity to implement temporary outdoor designated smoking areas during a transitional period when the policy first takes effect.

In a previous governing council meeting, concerns were raised as to where students and employees at UTM could legally smoke given the limited amount of public property, as well as how the university would penalize students unwilling to follow the ban. The proposal has yet to address concerns of disciplinary action or alternative smoking areas for students and staff.

For students at UTM, smoking-cessation programs are available through the Health and Counselling Centre (HCC).

The policy changes will be brought before U of T’s Governing Council for approval this December.

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