Western moves toward smoke-free campus

Paul Mayne // Western NewsLaunched in October 2015, the Let’s Clear the Air Here campaign looks to engage the university community in a conversation about smoking policies on campus. As part of that, the university implemented three ‘clear air corridors’ where smoking is prohibited – including this one between Somerville House and Lawson Hall.

A university community call to clear the air is being heeded as Western officials announced this week their plans to snuff out smoking across campus by July 2019.

Starting today, smokers are required to keep at least 10 meters from any campus building. While previous policy required smokers to be 10 metres from doors and windows, this slight revision will help to address concerns about smoke filtering into buildings.

On July 1, smoking will be allowed only in a limited number of designated smoking areas on campus. The number and location of these smoking areas are currently being evaluated. One year later, on July 1, 2019, Western’s campus will become officially smoke-free as those designated smoking areas will be phased out/removed.

“We recognize the move to smoke-free will be a difficult transition for some members of our campus community,” said Jane O’Brien, Associate Vice-President (Human Resources). “In addition to a phased-in approach to a smoke-free environment, we will be working to ensure students, faculty and staff are aware of smoking cessation supports available to those who wish to quit smoking.

“Western’s vision is to be a destination of choice for the world’s brightest minds and we have a responsibility as educators to ensure we create an environment that promotes health and wellness.”

The university’s decision to move towards a smoke-free campus is being undertaken after extensive consultation with many groups and individuals at Western, who indicated that a smoke-free environment would create a healthier environment for all people who come to Western to study, work and visit. In a 2016 survey of students, faculty and staff, 76 per cent of respondents agreed that a move to a smoke-free campus would be a positive transition.

As Western implements its new policy on July 1, efforts will also be made to communicate information to community members who regularly visit campus.

“Our goal during the transition to smoke-free will be to inform, educate and encourage people to help us create a healthier campus,” O’Brien said.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, Western would be the third Ontario university or college campus to go smoke free. McMaster University and St. Paul University have already made the move. Western also joins a growing wave of smoke-free campus across the country, nearly two dozen, from Emily Carr College of Art + Design in BC, to the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, to Yukon College, to Acadia, Dalhousie and Memorial in the east.

Visit the Let’s Clear the Air website for further details.