By Tyler Choi
For three Ontario universities, next year is bound to be confusing, uncomfortable and controversial for students and staff with a lighter in their pockets and a cigarette in hand.
In September, McMaster University announced their plans to become Ontario’s first 100 per cent tobacco-and-smoke-free campus, effective Jan. 1, 2018. They plan on banning all tobacco products, shisha and smoking devices like vapes, and medical marijuana. The University of Toronto was not far behind, announcing their own plans to implement a campus prohibition on smoking. Western University fell in with the pack weeks later, planing to be smoke-free by the summer.
But Ryerson has no plans to fall in line as a smoke-free university anytime soon.
“Given our location, our public realm and connection to the larger city, [a smoking ban] would present a challenge,” said Tony Conte, executive director of the office of the vice president of administration and finance.
Ryerson is caged between various public streets with high foot traffic like Gould, Victoria and Church. The city laws wouldn’t allow the school to ban anything on city property.
“My understanding is Gould Street—while it is now pedestrianized and for Ryerson to use—is still is a city street. And city bylaws apply to it,” said Conte.
Ryerson’s inability to control its streets became apparent with the appearance of anti-choice protesters on campus. Their graphic signage was easily viewable by any Ryerson student walking towards the campus and was widely criticized. But despite complaints and several meetings, it was clear there was little Ryerson could do about them because Gould Street is not officially on school property.
Ryerson does impose strict smoking policies on campus, but they’re limited to the interior and general vicinity of their buildings and residences. “We don’t own the suite between them, however we have that nine-metre radius from each entrance of the building that smoking is prohibited, so that’s the reality of our policy,” said Ryerson president Mohamed Lachemi.
So enjoy your small freedom while it lasts, Ryerson smokers.