Cancer association asks Humber to bar smoking on campus

Lucia Yglesias
News Reporter

Lately concluded National Non-Smoking Week included a call to Canadian colleges to consider implementing a complete smoking ban in campus.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said a 100 per cent smoke-free policy will make smoking less convenient and reduce costs.

“Smoke-free places are a great motivator to quit smoking. Smoke-free places are a fundamental health issue,” Cunningham said. “Cigarette butts are an important source of waste whereby colleges have to pay for the cost of cleanup.”

Before 2015, there were 15 colleges and universities across Canada with a smoking ban and more than a thousand in the U.S.

Humber dean of the School of Health Sciences Dr. Jason Powell considers the policy a good, but long-term decision.

“There is a lot less cigarettes right now than in the ‘80s. It’s not socially acceptable any more to smoke,” said Powell.

Eighteen per cent of Canadian smokers are 20 to 24 years old. Humber’s smoking policy has been effective since 2009 and identifies smoking and no-smoking areas.

Powell also recognized post-secondary institutions are inherently stressful places.

“We have available resources for students who are dealing with pressures over their capacity. Those departments are always packed with students,” Powell said.

IGNITE North campus Vice President of Student Life Ammar Abdul-Raheem believes barring smoking from campus will create a big discussion.

“There are students who are strong in their beliefs and they have the right to study in a healthy environment. But at the same time, there are students who need to smoke for mental health issues, or just to cope with all the stress and to clear off their minds,” Abdul-Raheem said.

A first-year Humber Civil Engineering student who asked not to be identified believes the policy will force him to quit or at least to smoke less.

“I’m not proud of my habit. I’m always looking for an excuse to quit. That seems like the perfect time”

“Tobacco represents an unparalleled health epidemic. Tobacco causes cancer, heart attacks, emphysema and death.  Second-hand smoke is harmful to non-smokers,” said Cunningham.

By 2018, hospital grounds in Ontario will need to be 100 per cent smoke-free. Ontario has made outdoor patios, children’s playgrounds and sports and high school fields/grounds a complete smoke-free environment.

Meanwhile, a Canadian Cancer Society spokesperson noted that water-pipes (hookahs) are a growing concern.

“They are used mostly in a social setting and among young group ages. It might not seem harmful. It might have a nice taste and aroma, but it contains the same cancer-causing substances as cigarettes,” he said.

In 2014, the Canadian Community Health Survey showed that tobacco kills 37,000 Canadians every year, with 30 per cent reported as cancer deaths.

“Anybody who is using nicotine, e-cigarettes, vaporizers, they should take that really seriously. No matter how many they have in a week or day, zero should be the number,” Powell said.

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