KPU to Become Smoke-Free in 2018

Smoking of any kind will be prohibited on KPU campuses starting in January

Members of the KPU community who are used to smoking on-campus will no longer be able to after Jan. 21. (Braden Klassen)

Students, staff, and faculty who smoke at KPU will soon be asked to “butt out” while on campus.

On Sept. 28 the university sent students and staff an email from KPU President Alan Davis, who wrote that he is “pleased to share the news that KPU will go smoke-free on Jan. 21, 2018,” with the policy becoming active at the start of National Non-Smoking Week.

“Smoking and vaping will be prohibited on all KPU campuses and properties, including inside private vehicles while those vehicles are parked on KPU property,” read the email. “Similar smoke-free policies are already in place at a number of post-secondary institutions across Canada.”

The idea for the policy was initially posted on the KPU Policy Blog before the university put together a task force of representatives who, according to the email, “deliberated for more than two years over the many options and possibilities for regulating these activities on campus,” before deciding to ban all smoking on campus.

The decision has been “a long time coming,” says Davis. “When I arrived, there were some concerns and several complaints [about smoke]. Although we were generally complying with provincial bylaws by staying away from airways and doorways, people could still smell smoke. I could smell it in my office sometimes.”

He continues, “I think the expectation in society, certainly in B.C. but less so in other parts of Canada and internationally … is that people don’t need to be subjected to secondhand smoke in any way.”

The task force’s initial goal was to improve on the university’s existing bylaws by having smoking-designated areas, but because of the province’s harsh weather, they realized that well-covered—and thus, very expensive— shelters would need to be erected in order to create a safe environment for those who smoke and those who don’t.

“We didn’t have the money to invest in designated smoke shelters,” says Davis. He encourages members of the KPU community who smoke, rather than moving off-campus, to drop the practice altogether.

“We’ve given them three months’ notice, so it’s a good opportunity for people who want to butt out. People have time to think about the alternatives,” he says. “If they are addicted and really need to smoke during the day, they can figure out where to go and how to do that.”

For the first few months that the policy is in place, KPU will be gentle with those who violate it. Student ambassadors will be hired to “go out and remind people what the regulation is, if people have missed the signage or missed the announcement to point it out … and generally, in a friendly way, remind them of the policy and point them to any resources that would help them quit smoking.”

After that point, repeated or obstinate on-campus smokers may have to face more serious penalties. The most severe of those would be expulsion.

Kwantlen Student Association President Tanvir Singh says that he is “definitely going to be lobbying as hard as [he] can to ensure that people who need to medicate [with medicinal cannabis] on-campus have the ability to do so.” Although Singh is opposed to regular tobacco use, he feels that “you need to have spaces on campus for people to smoke, otherwise people are just going to smoke everywhere and there will be butts everywhere.”

“I think it’s really important for us as a community that really supports both mental health and physical health to allow for people to medicate on campus as well, to have those spaces,” he says.

In response to the argument that community members may need to self-medicate while at the university, Davis points out that “there are alternatives to medication,” recommending that they explore those [other options].”

“You can look at how many deaths are tobacco-related in Canada and it’s compelling,” he says. “I see this as not a punishment or restriction. It’s an incentive to stop smoking.”

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