The fuse is lit for plans to quit: the University of Toronto is beginning the process of banning smoking on campus.
In the same week that McMaster University announced it will ban all smoking on its property starting January 1, 2018, U of T is confirming that it has plans to do the same.
“U of T does have similar plans underway,” Althea Blackburn-Evans, Director of Media Relations at U of T, told The Varsity. “It’s really early stages, and so there are still a lot of discussions continuing. It’s really premature to talk about what the plan will look like in the end, and when it’ll be finalized.”
The plan to ban smoking began as a conversation between the Office of Health and Safety and in Human Resources, with the initial drive being to update the university’s outdated smoking policy. The policy dates back to 1995, Blackburn-Evans said — about 11 years before it became illegal to smoke in bars and pubs in Ontario, and back before marijuana dispensaries dotted the downtown core.
Marijuana, too, plays a part in the university’s slow-burn discussion on a smoking ban. “We are watching closely for updates on the federal government’s proposed legislation,” Blackburn-Evans said, “because however the province and the municipalities implement it, it will have implications on whatever we decide to do here.”
It remains to be seen how a smoking ban could be enforced on, for instance, the St. George campus, which includes a considerable chunk of Toronto’s downtown core: from Bay Street to Spadina Avenue, and Bloor Street to College Street.
“This is a good move on the university’s part,” the President of the University of Toronto Students’ Union, Mathias Memmel, told The Varsity. “At the risk of stating the obvious, smoking is unambiguously bad and should be discouraged.”
Some parts of the St. George campus are privately owned by U of T, making these areas subject to university policy. However, some larger thoroughfares include public roadways and sidewalks, which may not be subject to such a ban.
Blackburn-Evans made it clear that there are a lot of things that are still up in the air — it remains to be seen whether smoke on campus will be among them.