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Ryerson won’t have a cannabis-specific smoking policy until December

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By Anastasia Andric

There won’t be any specific rules about where students can smoke a joint on campus between cannabis legalization on Oct. 17, up until December, when students expect the introduction of Ryerson University’s pot-specific smoking policy.

However, cannabis will be treated the same as cigarettes at Ryerson once the new policy is introduced in December, according to president Mohamed Lachemi.

Although there will be no specific rules about cannabis usage on campus for the two months when weed is legal, Lachemi said he expects students to follow the general smoking rules.

“It doesn’t mean people can smoke inside because smoking is smoking. The new policy will just clarify things. [The policy will regulate] smoking and vaping, which includes tobacco and cannabis,” Lachemi said.

The current policy prohibits smoking inside campus buildings and within nine metres of building entrances and loading docks.

Lachemi did not give specifics about the new policy except that it will include the prohibition of smoking tobacco, cannabis and vaping. Additionally, he said the policy will be modified to accommodate cannabis research and students and staff who use weed for medical purposes.

The policy will closely resemble the Smoke Free Ontario Act (SFOA) of 2017, he said.

The SFOA prohibits the smoking of tobacco, the use of an e-cigarette to vape any substance and the smoking and vaping of medical cannabis in all enclosed public spaces and enclosed workplaces, as well as additional prohibited places like children’s playgrounds.

On Aug. 20, George Brown College announced its decision to become a smoke-free campus, nearly eight months after McMaster University implemented the same rule and one year after the University of Toronto announced plans to go smoke free.

Dr. Peter Selby, director of medical education at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, applauded George Brown College’s smoke-free move.

“The benefits are immediate and long term,” said Selby. “Less second hand exposure, less lifelong addiction with deadly consequences, more money for food and other things, less absenteeism, and better mental health in the long run.”

Ryerson has no plans to put a blanket ban on smoking anytime soon, Lachemi said. However, some students are open to the idea of changing Ryerson’s current smoking policy.

Ryerson student Stutee Bhargav is one of them.

“I am very much against smoking in public. It’s annoying when I’m walking on campus and people are smoking in my face. It’s hard not to inhale all that smoke,” she said.

Bhargav said she is surprised that so many students smoke tobacco, considering all of the possible health consequences that accompany smoking.

“If banning smoke on campus is what it takes to make people realize it’s effects to them and to others, then for sure the school should go smoke-free,” Bhargav said.

Gursagar Jadhir, a first-year business management student, said he was sitting on the Student Learning Centre stairs on the first day of school and all he could smell was second-hand smoke. “It was brutal,” he said.

While Jadhir doesn’t believe smoking should be completely banned across campus, he said there should be designated areas for smokers.

Kamyar Kohestaniparizi, a second-year biology student, has been smoking for nearly seven years. “It’s a habit I’m used to. It’s like drinking water for me. You know when you’re thirsty and you just need to have water? It’s like that.”

The 21-year-old agreed designated smoking areas on campus would be the most convenient option for everyone involved.

Kohestaniparizi said designated spaces would also be beneficial for smokers during the winter seasons when it’s raining so that they can take cover somewhere, and won’t bother non-smokers.

All of his attempts to quit smoking have been unsuccessful. He said he might attempt to quit again in the future but not right now; he doesn’t want to deal with the stress of withdrawal symptoms.

“I’m biased but I wouldn’t want the campus to go smoke-free completely,” he said.

As a student who attends George Brown College for design, Roy Novak said a smoke-free campus is easier said than done. “I still see students smoking sometimes, definitely not as much as before, but some people just don’t care and still do it.”

While Novak said some of his friends were upset with the new rule at first, he said it has helped them cut back on cigarettes and save money.

Since Ryerson is located in the downtown core, it would be harder to apply a policy like George Brown College’s, Lachemi said.

“It’s a mix of private properties and also fields alongside that are not owned by [Ryerson],” he said. “[The campus buildings] are our responsibility. However what’s happening in the street is another aspect.”

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