On Monday Sept. 18, McMaster University announced that we will become a smoke-fee school. This is an incredible progression for the university in a number of ways, beyond the fact that McMaster will become a healthier campus for everyone.
According to the McMaster Daily News, McMaster will be ending the use of tobacco and any other smoking devices inside, outside and around campus.
This also includes the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington and any other McMaster owned facilities.
By declaring the campus to become a tobacco and smoke free campus, McMaster is promoting the health and wellness of not only students, but McMaster faculty, staff and even guests.
This is an initiative that is meant to improve the daily lives and health of the McMaster community by ensuring that no one on campus will be exposed to second hand smoke. For a person who is allergic to smoke and nearly chokes at every encounter with it, this initiative will absolutely improve my McMaster experience.
Seeing as McMaster is recognized globally for being an institute that is committed to health advancements and student well being that is rising in global rankings, this will only increase our rankings as an internationally well-renowned institute.
One concern that arises with applying this new policy is that adjusting to such a change for those who do smoke might not be easily transitional.
However, the university has already anticipated possible responses to the change, and is planning accordingly.
“This change will have different implications for the diverse communities across our campus.”
Vice president (Education)
McMaster Students Union
To prepare for the change on campus, McMaster has claimed that there will be a comprehensive program available that will help the McMaster community adapt.
Another concern is maintaining respect for diverse groups who may practice the use of smoke and tobacco for cultural reasons.
Ryan Deshpande, vice president (Education), stated, “This change will have different implications for the diverse communities across our campus.”
As we all manage this transition, it is important that the University’s resources cater to the cultural and mental wellbeing of these communities, and that everyone is aware of these supports throughout this process,” he added.
In response to this concern, the university claims that it recognizes and understands that certain Indigenous cultures may have traditional and sacred needs for the use of tobacco for medicinal purposes, and assures that in certain cases, there can be exemptions granted to the policy if need be.
The university assures those concerned about the implementation and regulation of this change that it will not be an abrupt one.
The enforcement is meant to be phased into implementation for the first few months of the change.
In areas near campus but not on campus, the university claims that they will try to regulate the number of people who smoke in neighbouring residential streets and sidewalks so that there isn’t an increase in smoking there are a result.
In terms of regulation, if someone is violating the policy within the adjustment period, they’ll just be asked not to use the smoke or tobacco and directed to a cessation program.
The implementation and execution of a smoke free campus is one that will bring positive community response and global recognition that all students are able to benefit from.
Beyond the efforts that the university is taking with respect to our health and well being, this change will be an active stance in helping to improve the campus environment as well.
This change is something that we as McMaster students should be proud to be a part of moving into the future of the university.