New smoke-free policy comes into effect at GBC today
As the fall semester begins, George Brown College (GBC) has introduced a new smoke-free policy which took effect on Aug. 20, prohibiting the smoking or vaping of any product (including tobacco and cannabis) on school property.
“The primary reason was we want to promote a healthy lifestyle,” said Karen Thomson, GBC’s vice president of corporate services.
The policy states that the burning, exhaling and inhaling of all tobacco and cannabis products are prohibited:
- In all college leased or owned buildings.
- On owned or leased college property.
- In a college vehicle, or vehicles parked on college owned or leased property.
- Within nine meters of any college entrance regardless of ownership.
Thomson said that the new rules aren’t meant to be punitive or to reprimand smokers but the new rules state “violators of the smoking policy, both staff and students, will be dealt with in a progressive disciplinary manner, consistent with college procedures and practices.”
A survey of GBC staff was conducted after the policy was announced. Ninety per cent of the respondents were in support of the new measures or feel it will have little impact on their lives.
Some students are divided on the new rules.
“I don’t like it when I find them (smokers) anywhere on campus because they can restrict my movement,” said Desire Kyomugisha, a non-smoking student at Casa Loma campus. “They blow it in my face and I don’t like it.”
“It’s not just smoking cigarettes, they’re changing the policy because cannabis is going to be legal,” said Nadia Conte, an interior decorating student at GBC’s Casa Loma campus who smokes. “Why would they make that change right now?” Conte added.
Thomson says the college is “going to have a separate and distinct policy on cannabis,” but for now, it is up to the discretion of security to prevent students from smoking anything on campus.
Ryn Ellis, a smoker at the Casa Loma campus, said he was concerned about accessibility for “the disabled students, because an individual who can’t walk very far and chooses to smoke, shouldn’t have to leave school property to do so.”
Thomson said that the college has not received any complaints from staff or students with mobility issues in regards to the new policy.
As Dwaine Bartley, an HVAC student at Casa Loma, said banning smoking on elementary school property makes sense, but a college could have some leeway.
“When you’re in an adult environment I feel like its pushing the boundaries a bit, you got ash trays all around,” said Bartley. “As it is now its nine meters away from this door, nine meters from that door, don’t smoke here, don’t smoke there, they might as well ban smoking altogether.”
There is an exemption in the policy for the use of tobacco by Indigenous people. Referencing Ontario’s Aboriginal use of traditional medicines policy, GBC’s guidelines take into consideration First Nations people and their cultural traditions involving the use of tobacco.