Questions about a smoke-free Western

Why is Western going smoke-free?

Western's goal is to provide a healthy, clean campus environment for those who study, live, work and visit here.

How was this decision made?

Western's decision to go smoke-free was made after extension consultation with individuals and groups across our university and beyond.

The consultation with student leaders and employee groups began in 2015.

  • Western's Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee, with representatives from each employee group, expressed early support for a move to a smoke-free campus.
  • A 2016 survey of more than 40,000 people at Western showed very strong support for a move to a smoke-free campus. Read the Smoking Survey Results (Western user ID and password required).
  • An Advisory Committee on the Future of Smoking at Western was established in early 2017 and made recommendations on a time-line for a smoke-free Western. The proposal, timeline and details were shared with student groups and employee groups, who provided feedback prior to a final decision by the President and Vice-Presidents group to proceed.
  • A campus-wide townhall meeting was held March 21, 2018 to seek feedback on the move to a smoke-free campus.

Western continues to welcome feedback at cleartheair@uwo.ca.

Who was on the Advisory Committee making this recommendation?

The Advisory Committee is led by two Co-Chairs:

  • Dr. Terri Paul is a professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and is Associate Dean, Learner Equity & Wellness.
  • Chris Bumbacco is Director of Facilities in Housing & Ancillary Services and Co-Chair of the Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee.
  • Members of the Advisory Committee include undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff members at Western.  See the Committee member list.

What happens to people who smoke in areas where smoking is not allowed?

In our University's culture of respect, we believe that most individuals who do smoke, will do so in the designated smoking areas on campus. Smoke-free Campus Ambassadors will be on campus beginning in late August 2018 to speak with those who smoke outside of designated areas. When they do not, other community members may also choose to respectfully remind them. We believe that, over time, smokers will become more conscious of how their smoking affects others, and that non-smokers will become more comfortable in (respectfully) reminding smokers of the new restrictions.

What should I say to people who are smoking where they should not?

The key is respect, as some people may not know the policy, or know where to find designated areas. You might  try an approach like  this:

“Hi – I’m ______, and I am a student here at Western (or I work here).  I am wondering if you know that smoking on main campus is restricted to designated smoking areas?  Could I ask you to please move to one of those areas? I find the smoke bothers me as I go by. Thank you!”

You may also wish to provide smokers with the url of the website where they can find more information.  It is www.uwo.ca/cleartheair 

What about e-cigarettes/vaping?

In July 2016, Western amended its smoking policy to include e-cigarettes.  This means those who vape are required to follow the same restrictions as regular smokers.

Are you trying to make people quit smoking?

People need to make their own choices about whether they wish to smoke.  We do know that half of all smokers who responded to our survey in 2016 said they wish to quit within the next year.  There are supports available from Western and a number of community and provincial agencies for those who wish to quit.  

What’s the big deal?  Most people don’t mind a little smoke.

For many people on our campus, it is a very big deal. Some individuals in our Western community have had their health compromised as a result of second-hand smoke on campus. Many have lost loved ones to smoke-related illnesses.  Some people tell us they have chosen their routes on campus to avoid smokers. Western believes a move to a smoke-free campus will create a healthier, cleaner environment for all of us.

I am a smoker, but I am thinking about quitting.

Great! We hope you will feel better, enjoy better health, and save money. You will also be taking a big step toward helping us to clear the air on campus.  The Smoker's Helpline provides good information for those thinking about quitting.  We also have a Western web page with information about quitting so you can find out how to take that next step.