2nd eastern Ontario college to ban smoking tobacco, cannabis

2nd eastern Ontario college to ban smoking tobacco, cannabis

Rules still unclear on pot smoking in public

With cannabis legalization fast approaching, a second eastern Ontario college has decided to ban the smoking of both marijuana and tobacco on its campuses.

St. Lawrence College announced this week that students and staff at its three campuses in Cornwall, Brockville and Kingston will be prohibited from lighting up as of Oct. 15.

"It was decided some time ago that this was important, and the risks and negative health impacts of second-hand smoke are well known," the college said in an online statement explaining the decision.

"The added complexity of the upcoming legalization of recreational cannabis was also a factor."

St. Lawrence College is now the second post-secondary institution in eastern Ontario to implement a campus-wide smoking ban, after Algonquin College announced an interim policy for its Ottawa, Perth and Pembroke campuses last week.

Algonquin also cited marijuana legalization as a factor in its decision — in particular, the province's decision to loosen the rules around where legal cannabis could be smoked.

The previous Liberal government would have restricted recreational marijuana smoking to private residences, but the recently elected Progressive Conservatives have decided to allow it wherever tobacco can also be smoked.

The St. Lawrence College policy applies to both students and staff and will cover all indoor and outdoor locations on its campuses, including inside vehicles.

It also bans vaping tobacco and cannabis. Substances that "form a part of Indigenous culture and heritage" are exempt, the college said.

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With the smoking of cannabis legal across Canada as of next Wednesday, where people in Kingston can light up in public appears to be a burning issue.

Ontario’s Conservative government is to allow people to smoke cannabis wherever they can legally smoke tobacco.

So will people strolling along Princess Street in the downtown core smell cannabis as they make their way to their favourite stores or restaurants?

The city’s smoking bylaw has a laundry list of where people can’t smoke cigarettes, cigars or use vapour devices, but since the bylaw was passed in 2002, and amended in 2004 and 2012, long before pot smoking was set to be legalized, will the bylaw also apply to cannabis?

It’s a wait-and-see decision as far as the City of Kingston and Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health are concerned.

“At this point, our discussions around the legalization of marijuana in Kingston are in keeping with our guidelines about smoking cigarettes,” Paige Agnew, director, planning, building licensing for the city wrote in an email response.

She said marijuana smoking will not be allowed in parks or near schools and has to be away from buildings.

“But we’re continuing to look at the new guidelines coming out and actively reviewing information from the province as we approach the date of cannabis becoming legal in Ontario later this month,” she wrote.

St. Lawrence College announced Tuesday there will be no smoking of any substance allowed anywhere on its Kingston, Brockville and Cornwall campuses, beginning Monday. The ban includes people smoking in their vehicles parked on campus property.

“The added complexity of the upcoming legalization of recreational cannabis was also a factor, and we wanted to communicate this, in advance of harsher weather coming, to help people who choose to smoke to adjust,” president and CEO of St. Lawrence College Glenn Vollebregt said Tuesday. “There will be no smoking on the college property.”

Erin Vretteas, a bylaw enforcement officer with KFL&A Public Health, said there are no municipal bylaws in place now that are above and beyond where cigarette smoking currently is allowed or not allowed.

Sara Tryon, a Public Health promoter, said the Ontario government has yet to pass its use-of-cannabis legislation, but it is expected to be in place next week.

“The government has proposed legislation that cannabis can be consumed where tobacco currently can be consumed, however that legislation is not passed and we won’t be able to confirm that information until then, either,” she said.

Smoking has been banned in public buildings, stores, malls, bingo halls, patios, arenas and other city-owned properties for years. Over the past few years, the smoking ban has extended to municipally owned outdoor spaces such as parks and sports fields.

People can smoke in their homes, condominium units or apartments, but not in the buildings’ common areas.

Currently, Kingston’s bylaw allows people to smoke on city sidewalks, but smokers have to be nine metres away from municipal buildings and Kingston Transit transfer points, and three metres away from workplaces and publicly accessible areas.

Posted in Ontario