Reporter: Giorgio Berbatiotis
A new bill introduced to the Ontario legislature could significantly change the way students’ access and are marketed tobacco products. Bill 131, the Youth Smoking Prevention Act, was carried past first reading on Nov. 18. The bill, introduced by Deb Matthews, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, would effectively ban the sale of cigarettes on campus as well as the sale of most flavoured tobacco products.
In addition to banning the sale of tobacco products on campus, the bill would also forbid the smoking of tobacco on playgrounds, sport surfaces, spectator areas, covered or uncovered patios at restaurants and on some government properties.
Many campuses in Ontario have already banned the sale of tobacco on their premises without the legislative prod. DC/UOIT is one of the few that have not.
“We really needed help with this,” said Tammy Finlayson, a registered nurse at the Campus Health Centre, who works with groups looking to help students struggling with a smoking addiction. She explained that banning the sale of tobacco on our
campus is something many have been trying to accomplish for some time. She described Bill 131 as another positive step towards a smoke-free campus, a move by the legislature that would end the struggle if
“I’m glad it’s going forward,” said Finlayson. “It shows we do care about [the student’s] health. It sends the right message about having a healthier future.”
The Health and Long-Term Care minister defended the bill vehemently in the legislature, telling the assembled about the harsh statistics.
“There are very compelling reasons for tackling tobacco use. Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death, preventable disease and
premature death in Ontario. Tobacco use accounts for about 13,000 deaths in
Ontario each year. That means that every single day, 36 people in Ontario die from smoking.
Every day—yesterday, today,
tomorrow—36 people will die, each and every year, and 36 families will grieve.”
She also noted the estimated costs to the economy, almost $2 billion in health care costs and almost $6 billion in lost productivity every year.