Laurentian University rules out smoking ban

Laurentian University is getting ready to limit the places where smokers can light up on campus. But the school doesn't expect it will ever bring in a total smoking ban, like McMaster University in Hamilton did earlier this year.

Lakehead University tried banned smoking from campus in 2004, but has since gone to designated smoking areas

Instead of going smoke-free, Laurentian University in Sudbury is creating 14 smoking sections on its main Ramsey Lake campus, plus one at the downtown school of architecture. (Erik White/CBC)

Religious studies professor Jack Laughlin is a smoker.

But he thinks fewer and fewer people at Laurentian University share his habit these days.

Laughlin says other than some cafeteria workers and a few maintenance staff, he doesn't see too many others on the Sudbury campus taking a smoke break.

"I see the occasional student smoking. They actually stand out given how few of them there are," he said.

And starting this September, those smokers will have to light up in 15 designated areas at Laurentian University, including one at the architecture school in downtown Sudbury.

That will replace the current policy which only bans smokers from lighting up within 9 metres of a doorway.

Laurentian health and safety manager Gail Cowper-Benoit says a committee was struck to review the smoking policy after there were several complaints about smokers not following the rules.

She says they considered going smoke-free, but decided to go with smoking sections instead, partly because the size of the campus would make a total ban hard to enforce.

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay went smoke-free in 2004, but then reverted to a system of 13 designated smoking areas. (Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images)

"We have 40 acres of land to monitor," Cowper-Benoit said.

She also feels it would be somewhat unfair to the students who live in residence to require them to leave campus to smoke.

"When you're asking people and this is their house and they have to walk 20 minutes just to find a place to smoke, it makes it difficult," she said.

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay banned smoking in 2004, but shortly after reverted to having smoking sections on campus.

Physical plant director Hugh Briggs says the ban just forced smokers under bridges and into alcoves.

"It's very difficult to enforce and forces people to find creative solutions which are not for everybody's best interests," he said.

All colleges and universities in northern Ontario have gone to a system of designated smoking sections in recent years and say they will see how McMaster's try at a smoke-free campus turns out.

Laughlin hopes Laurentian will consider a total smoking ban in the future.

He says being forced to walk out to Ramsey Lake Road to get his nicotine fix might be enough to convince him to quit for good.

"I can't say that I want the world to continue to allow me to smoke wherever I want," Laughlin said.