UPEI to have a smoke free campus

The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) has announced that its campus will be completely smoke-free starting Sept 1. 

According to a press release on the UPEI website, this decision comes after a review that took place from May 2015 to May 2016, where a working group that consisted of students, staff, faculty, and community partners conducted research that included a campus-wide survey followed by public consultations. 

The updated policy bans tobacco in all its forms on campus including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, cigars, water pipes, and any other form of tobacco.

Additionally, the policy also prohibits the advertisement as well as sale, promotion, and distribution of tobacco on campus, although exceptions will be made for Indigenous cultural ceremonies.

Hammad Ahmed, president of the UPEI Student Union, said in the release that he is proud of the work that they have accomplished alongside the university in regards to the updated tobacco use policy.

“This initiative supports our shared priority of providing a healthy atmosphere for students to pursue their education,” Ahmed said.

Acadia University made a similar move back in 2006 to ban tobacco use on its campus.

Scott Roberts, executive director of communications and marketing at Acadia, explained that the reason for the ban on campus was because smokers were not respecting the limits of the specified smoking areas, as well as not keeping them clean.

He said smokers would often toss their cigarette butts on the ground surrounding the buildings and would not respect the 15-metre boundary away from building entrances they had to respect in order to have a smoke. 

Roberts added that overall reactions to the ban has been positive and that Acadia is a “non-smoking community.”

According to the Canadian Tobacco Use Monitoring Survey, 19 per cent of Canadians reported using tobacco in 2005, with 26 per cent representing smokers between the ages of 20 to 24. In 2012, these numbers lowered to 16 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

In 2014, Statistics Canada found that 55 per cent of Canadians aged 20 to 24 had never smoked, which represents an increase from 2001, when 39 per cent of the same age group reported having never smoked before.

Elijah Doern, a fourth-year cognitive science student at Carleton University said that he doesn’t think a smoking ban is the answer. 

“I think making the campus smoke-free just tiptoes around smoking rather than trying to address it directly,” he said.  

Doern added that for the most part, smokers only smoke because they are addicted to it, and that it is important to help these students. “It’s much smarter to promote quitting and alternatives to smoking than to aimlessly ban it,” he said. 

In 2008, Carleton put out a policy to prevent smoking within 10 metres of any entrance or exit with the purpose being “to provide a safe and healthy environment for work and study” according to the Carleton website. 

In 2015, provincial legislation banned selling cigarettes on post-secondary campuses, affecting three locations on Carleton’s campus that previously sold tobacco.

Photo by Meagan Casalino