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McMaster University will become Ontario’s first 100% tobacco and smoke-free campus effective January 1, 2018.
The use of tobacco and all oral smoking devices will be prohibited on the Hamilton campus, inside and on the grounds of the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington, and at all McMaster-owned properties.
McMaster University recognizes the unique relationship that many Indigenous cultures have with traditional and sacred medicines. As such, exemptions to this policy will be granted, upon request, to members of the McMaster University community.
In preparation for this change, the University is undertaking a comprehensive program to help students, faculty and staff adapt to the new policy and to educate and inform the community about the new tobacco and smoke-free designation.
“McMaster is globally recognized for its commitment to innovation and advancing health and societal wellbeing through our research, teaching and community service,” says President Patrick Deane. “A tobacco and smoke-free campus is the next important step towards fulfilling our responsibilities as educators, healthcare professionals and to the communities we serve,” he says.
By designating the campus tobacco and smoke-free the University is creating an environment promoting health and wellness that ensures students, faculty, staff and visitors are not exposed to tobacco and smoking products, including second-hand smoke.
“Tobacco cessation is the single most important change a person can make to improve their overall health,” says Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health. “Stopping tobacco use and not being subject to second-hand smoke help prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke and cancer while improving quality of life. McMaster is congratulated on taking this very important and meaningful step.”
A cross-campus group is responsible for planning the implementation of the tobacco and smoke-free policy. The group includes representation from students, faculty, staff and other partners such as campus collective bargaining unions, Hamilton Public Health Services and others.
Tobacco and smoke-free environments are effective at motivating people towards quitting; starting in September a variety of free cessation programs and resources will also be offered to all members of the McMaster community.
“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,” says Ryan Deshpande, Vice President Education, McMaster Students Union.
“The Graduate Students Association fully supports the efforts of the McMaster Tobacco and Smoke-Free Initiative. The physical and societal harms of tobacco use and smoking cannot be understated and McMaster’s leadership is appropriate and appreciated,” says Tim van Boxtel, President, McMaster Graduate Student Association
A tobacco and smoke-free campus also supports meeting McMaster’s obligations under the Okanagan Charter. The Charter is a global agreement signed by dozens of universities committing to making health and wellbeing a priority in everything McMaster does, from policy decisions and academic programming to research and the configuration of campus space.
There will be phased-in enforcement of the tobacco and smoke-free designation beginning in January. For the first months, anyone found in contravention of the policy will be asked to refrain from smoking or using tobacco and will be referred to a cessation program or given access to supports and resources. The University will also work with the surrounding neighbourhood associations to ensure the new designation doesn’t lead to increased smoking on nearby residential streets and sidewalks.