Why we should work towards a smoke-free campus

Happy students sitting outsideAcross the country, 65 universities are adopting a smoke free campus policy. In America, this has trend has been gaining more traction, with over 2000 colleges following suit. The negative health effects of smoking have been known for many years now, but there are multiple benefits to having a smoke-free environment on campus. 

Everybody has a right to a healthy and safe environment. Smoking is not a habit that just affects the person doing it. Second-hand smoke can have negative effects on the health of others. It has been linked to a 20% increase in risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. There is no safe level of second hand smoke.

It can help us reach our sustainability goals. The University of Waterloo has made big strides this past year on environmental sustainability, with the most recent sustainability strategy aiming to become carbon neutral by 2050. Smoking on campus may make environmental initiatives such as these more difficult. Another goal of the sustainability strategy is to become a zero waste campus by 2035. Cigarette butts are the most littereditem on the planet. They are made of cellulose acetate, which take a significant period of time to break down. The many chemicals found in cigarettes are also harmful to surrounding lifeforms.

It can start a movement. 99% of smokers start before they are 26 years old. Our time at post-secondary institutions can shape our habits and lifestyles for years to come. A smoke free campus could create a culture that promotes smoking cessation and may prevent others from taking up the habit. 

Today, we are hosting the 1Day Stand. Change is hard, and we get that. We also know that change can be for the better. So as a campus, let’s work together to advocate for a healthier and cleaner future, one day at a time. 

Need support? Talk to a health care provider about smoking cessation aids, or consult the smoker’s help line

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