UPEI smoke-free

The UPEI student union is contemplating a non-binding plebiscite on making the campus smoke-free.

The student union at the University of Prince Edward Island is eyeing a plebiscite early next year to gauge if students want the campus to go smoke-free.

Current rules say people can light up outside on university property, so long as they are 30 feet from any building.

But the university is being urged to change that and eliminate all smoking on campus. A petition has been launched by Kathleen Murphy and handed in to student union.

“If you’re walking to your class and you have to go inside the door, you have that secondhand smoke,” she said.

“And then for the smokers themselves, it’s shown that smoke-free places motivates people to question their smoking, maybe go toward quitting.”

Hospitals on P.E.I. require smokers to be off property, as does Holland College. But it’s not a given that UPEI will follow suit, and there could be opposition.

“I have the right to smoke,” Abraham Salah said. “To smoke all the way in the parking lot to get out off school property, it’s kind of unfair for us.”

Student union president Anastasia Smallwood said concerns have been raised about the possibility of an all out ban. Forcing residents to smoke off campus might be unfair, for instance.

“This petition has kind of sparked a conversation around campus,” she said.

“There has been an outpouring on Twitter and on Facebook from students, both for and against the idea.

“We actually talked to our council about it on Sunday night and moving forward I think we are going to be putting a plebiscite during our spring general election in February to get student feedback on it."