Campus smoking ban working well, officials say

A smoker takes a puff just off the Durham College, Ontario Tech University property. Photo credit: Jeremy Corrivault-Luxton

It’s been about a year since smoking – of all forms – was banned on the campus of Durham College (DC) and Ontario Tech University.

Don Lovisa, DC president, feels the ban is effective.

‘I think it’s working fine, it’s going to take some time for people to fully accept it,” says Lovisa, adding the school provides full support for students who want to quit at the health centre.

Officials are currently enforcing a smoke-free campus, says Jordan A. Stanley, a security guard on campus.

Security guards still find students smoking on campus, but Stanley notes there are fewer people smoking this year. He says they see and warn up to eight people a day who are smoking on campus.

After the legalization of cannabis in Canada, Durham College and Ontario Tech banned smoking on campus effective Oct. 12, 2018. Students now must walk to specific areas to smoke off campus.

When the ban was announced, school officials indicated it would be enforced in three phases.

The first phase was the announcement indicating the school was now smoke-free. They additionally put out signs to inform students smoking was no longer allowed.

Phase two was implemented in February of this year. The schools wanted to have more security ensuring students were no longer smoking on campus.

They are now currently on phase three, trying to eliminate all smoking on campus. Bylaw officers are checking on students who light up on campus. If the students are found smoking, they receive a warning the first time they are caught, Stanley says.

“We give you a warning, the bylaw (officer) has the choice to give you a ticket right away or a warning,” says Stanley.

Durham College student, Kindam Doshi, says he enjoys having a smoke-free campus.

Doshi feels like it’s good to have restricted areas for smokers to gather just off campus property because as an international student, it is easier for him to meet with familiar faces every day and talk to them. He says having students smoking all over campus could create a bad reputation for the school.

“Smoke free campus, I’m really looking forward to it!” says Doshi.

Ontario Tech student, Kevin Wilson, voiced his displeasure about the ban.

‘It’s so frustrating with the new rules now I have to walk 15 minutes just to take my smoke break and by the time I’m done I’m already late for class,” says Wilson.

He also says the ban is foolish, noting prior to the ban, he could grab a quick smoke outside a building on campus and be back for the start of a class, but now because he has to walk further, he is occasionally late for class.

Tom Lynch, the director for Office of Campus Security, is in meetings about the final phase of the implementation of the smoking ban.

“The Office of Campus Safety is currently in discussions with both institutions in regard to the next steps in the non-smoking policies and the impact the new regional bylaw will have,” says Lynch in an email, referring to Durham Region’s new smoking and vaping bylaw which went into effect in April of this year.