McMaster University is banning all smoking on its campuses effective Jan. 1, 2018, the university announced today.

In a news release, the school said that the move will make the university Ontario's first "100% tobacco and smoke-free campus."

The ban means the use of tobacco and "all oral smoking devices" are prohibited on the entire Hamilton campus, inside and on the grounds of the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington, and at all McMaster-owned properties.

"McMaster is globally recognized for its commitment to innovation and advancing health and societal wellbeing through our research, teaching and community service," said President Patrick Deane, in a statement.

"A tobacco and smoke-free campus is the next important step towards fulfilling our responsibilities as educators, healthcare professionals and to the communities we serve."

'McMaster is congratulated on taking this very important and meaningful step.'
- Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health

McMaster says starting on Jan. 1, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, mini-cigars, pipes, water pipes, hookah, shisha, and pot will be banned on any university property. The ban also includes vaping, the school says.

The university says students and faculty will not be permitted to smoke in their vehicles when parked on McMaster property.

The ban also includes smoking of medicinal marijuana, said McMaster Assistant Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Wanda McKenna.

"Cannabis would be included in [the ban], but there are other forms that are available for individuals prescribed medical marijuana," McKenna told CBC News in an interview. Medicinal pot is also available in other forms like pills.

The university says it "recognizes the unique relationship that many Indigenous cultures have with traditional and sacred medicines," and so some exemptions against the policy will be granted on request to certain members of the community.

In the lead up to the ban, McMaster says it's beginning a program to help students, faculty and staff adapt to the new policy. The university says that programs and resources for quitting smoking will be offered for free on campus.

McMaster says there will be "phased-in" enforcement of the ban starting in January.

For the first few months, the school says, anyone found to be breaking the new no-smoking policy will be asked to stop smoking and be referred to a cessation program. The university says future enforcement will include a follow-up by security services, or a university violation notice with a fine.

McKenna says the school's focus will be on "gentle persuasion" over heavy fines.

"Smoking is a personal choice. We're not saying you have to quit smoking," she said. "We see this as a kind of natural extension of what's going on in society."

The university says it will also work with surrounding neighbourhood associations to make sure the ban doesn't lead to increased smoking on nearby residential streets and sidewalks.

"Tobacco cessation is the single most important change a person can make to improve their overall health," said Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Hamilton's medical officer of health, in a statement.

"Stopping tobacco use and not being subject to second-hand smoke help prevent chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke and cancer while improving quality of life. McMaster is congratulated on taking this very important and meaningful step."

adam.carter@cbc.ca