The Hamilton campus of McMaster University is the latest post-secondary school in Canada to ban smoking on their premises. The list has now reached 14 different schools who have decided to ban smoking on campus. This advocates for other schools to follow-suit. There are at least 1,913 non-smoking campuses in the United States as of this past summer though it is important to note the drastic population difference.
The ban will be effective on January 1, 2018 and will cover any oral smoking supplements, tobacco, marijuana, and medicinal marijuana. As the government is moving to legalize marijuana throughout the country, it is important to note that the ban will still be held up in full after that legalization process takes place. That being said, McMaster stated that anyone who need medical marijuana could consume their dosages in an edible or non-smoking form. The school is also directing its smokers to a cessation program in order to potentially help students overcome their addiction.
Sean Van Koughnett, Dean of Students at McMaster, stated in an interview with the Toronto Sun that he had seen, and been a part of, a much larger shift he had noticed for decades. McMaster had removed both the smoking offices and rooms, and removed any legal smoking sections completely. He attributed it to a change in the public perception of smoking. He went on to state how this is an evolution on the culture of public smoking in Canada. With laws that prohibit smoking indoors to regulations regarding smoking in a car with more than one occupant, the Canadian Government is attempting to educate the public to the health risks associated with smoking.
Legislation from the provincial Quebec government, that should take effect in November, states that every post-secondary institution in the province must have a smoking policy. This does not mean that every campus will be smoke free. However it is a clear and honest step in the direction of eliminating health hazards from second hand smoke. In fact the only region in Canada that has no smoking on any campuses is the Yukon territory.
Koughnett understood that this will take time to get used to. He states that he will start out leniently, once the smoke-free campus takes effect. Choosing education on addiction and other alternatives before traditional punishment for a violation of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. But Koughnett’s hope is that the trend continues wherein the less places that smoking is available the less smokers there are. His viewpoint is one that smoking is an overall deterrent on Canadian lives and the less there is of it the better.
What Koughnett is indicating can be seen a juxtaposition from the progressive push towards legalization of marijuana. Niagara College recently announced that they would become the first Canadian Post-Secondary school to begin a credential in commercial cannabis production. This is a serious step in a new direction for the country, as while this announcement has been in place the drug is still illegal to manufacture. Niagara College’s president Dan Patterson states that he believes his college’s key strength is their ability to anticipate and educate students for jobs that will be available when they finish their degree, but not necessarily when they start them.
While this is the first of many changes and more are sure to come it seems this is a fascinating snapshot of the state of our country today as we face this issue of smoking and how to approach it. Perhaps this is not the path Canada would have taken ten years ago, and perhaps not the path we will be taking in ten years. But today we are pushing for more laws supporting marijuana and fewer places to smoke a tobacco cigarette.