Algonquin College bans smoking, just ahead of pot legalization

Algonquin College is the first post-secondary institution in Eastern Ontario to go completely smoke-free.

College President Cheryl Jensen says the decision comes after the provincial government changed the rules around cannabis.

“We were following the premise, that the smoking of cannabis would be like drinking alcohol; only allowed in certain area,” Jensen says. “We don’t have students or employees walking around campus drinking alcohol.”

Last month, the Progressive Conservative government says Ontario residents will be able to smoke recreational cannabis wherever the smoking of tobacco is permitted, loosening rules established by the previous Liberal regime.

Jensen says. “There was never an appetite at the college to smoke cannabis where you can smoke tobacco. We have a daycare on campus; we have high school students coming on campus for tours all the time.”

A report by the Canadian Cancer Society released in mid-September indicated that 65 universities and colleges across Canada were smoke-free both indoors and out. Algonquin becomes the first post-secondary institution in Ottawa to ban smoking.

Cigarette smoking is allowed in designated areas on Carleton and uOttawa campuses.

Smoking cessation expert Andrew Pipe says other campuses should follow suit- a smoking ban is necessary and appropriate.

Pipe says, “Education institutions, hospitals, don’t want the confusion that would inevitably arise if cannabis use begins to become common in those places so tying cannabis smoking with current policies makes sense.” He added that bans will help increasing cessation rates among students.

Algonquin says the ban goes into effect Oct. 15. They will use until January 1st 2019 to consult with professionals about enforcement. Until then they will focus on education.