No ifs, ands or butts! We’re a Smoke-Free Campus!

By Everett Dorma Posted: April 29, 2019 12:00 p.m.

Campus Beautification Day provides opportunity to clean and enhance our campus environment, including addressing discarded cigarette butts - an unwelcome sign of spring.
Campus Beautification Day provides opportunity to clean and enhance our campus environment, including addressing discarded cigarette butts - an unwelcome sign of spring. Photo courtesy Facilities Management.

As part of the University of Regina’s efforts to ensure a clean and healthy environment a Smoke-Free Campus Policy was implemented last fall.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. People say they appreciate being able to breathe clean air,” said Darren Cherwaty, Director, Health, Safety and Wellness at the U of R. “Unfortunately, an unintended (although not unanticipated) consequence of this policy is that cigarette butts and related litter are being discarded along walking paths and areas throughout the campus.”

“Overall the Smoke-Free Policy has been well received on our campuses with few complaints,” said Pat Patton, Director of Security and Operations with Facilities Management. “However, given the amount of cigarette butts that have accumulated over the winter months, it is obvious there is still a contingent of smokers who are either unaware of the policy or are ignoring it. We anticipated it would take time for people to fully adjust to a smoke-free campus and our focus continues to be on voluntary compliance through education, signage, and awareness.”

In addition to being unsightly, cigarette butts contain a variety of toxic chemicals: nicotine, arsenic, lead, copper, chromium, cadmium, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons which affect our air, soil, and water.   Also, over the last five years at least two fires on campus have been attributed to carelessly discarded cigarette butts.

The 2017 Canadian Tobacco Alcohol and Drug Survey released in October 2018, found that 22 per cent of Saskatchewan youth aged 15-19 are current smokers compared to 8 per cent nationally. The Canadian Cancer Society asserts that policies for 100% smoke-free campuses not only provide protection from second-hand smoke, but also provide increased motivation to quit altogether.

The University acknowledges that smoking is an addiction that can be very difficult to quit; however, for those people who no longer want smoking to control their lives, there are assistance programs available:

  • Employees: Contact Human Resources to find out about benefits coverage for smoking cessation options. Please contact Angela.Rensby@uregina.ca or call 306-585-4167. Additional resources/benefits information can be found on the Sun Life website at sunlife.ca/uregina.
  • Students: Contact the University of Regina Students’ Union to find out about coverage for smoking cessation options. Call 306-586-8811 or visit ursu.ca.

As an added incentive to quit, the Canadian Cancer Society is currently running a First Week Challenge Contest. People who quit smoking for the first seven days of the month can enter to win a $500 cash prize. For contest details and to enter, visit: https://www.smokershelpline.ca/challenges/first-week-challenge/about.

 “I encourage anyone who is tired of seeing cigarette butts and other litter on our campus to volunteer for the annual Campus Beautification Day on May 8 (alternate rain date May 9),” said Patton. “This day provides faculty, staff and students an opportunity to help address the litter problem directly.”

Volunteers will clean-up litter and remove debris, rake turf and plantings, spread mulch, and sweep stairways and walkways. In addition to enjoying the fresh air and physical activity volunteers will receive a free lunch and an opportunity to win prizes.

For more information or to volunteer, visit: ureginaCBD.eventbrite.ca.

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