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Originally published on Dec. 3, 2003

The University of Ottawa’s new smoking ban extension is being enforced and all signs are indicating that the new policy will be in place by the end of next week, according to U of O’s Environmental Health and Safety Service.

The bylaw, introduced by the University of Ottawa at the end of July, bans smoking within nine metres (30 feet) of main entrances, loading zones, and air intakes of main buildings on campus.

The University of Ottawa bylaw came into effect just months before the provincial government announced that it is discussing the prospect of initiating a province-wide ban on smoking in public spaces. The U of O Occupational Health and Safety Officer, Céline Clément, believes that the process of instituting the bylaw on campus has progressed well overall. 

“We’re not done yet, but by the end of the next week all of the main buildings will have proper signage …and ashtrays will be moved away [from the main entrances],” said Clément. 

“We’re very pleased,” she added. 

The implementation of the policy has taken several months due to several interpretation problems of the nine-metre rule. 

“This is a long process … we are a group that has to find out what are ‘main entrances’ and what is nine metres away,” explained Clément.

She named the University Centre as one of the complicated areas, because the nine metre boundary ends in the middle of the steps down to the lower entrance. The new policy was introduced in response to several complaints about the smell of smoke inside Tabaret and Morisset halls. The policy was then extended to limit exposure to second-hand smoke throughout the rest of the university campus. Although there is currently no specifically designated fine or punitive measure for disobeying the ban, Clément assures that the new policy is being enforced by protection officers. 

“It has happened that people were smoking within the nine-metre zone, and Protection [Services were] requested to patrol and to remind people of the bylaws,” she said. 

Clément states that introducing a fine for the bylaw is still an option and will be looked into next year.

“We have a few people who have suggested to us that we should look into a fine system … the fine system will be explored but we don’t know if it is possible to apply it. We have to do a little more research,” said Clément.

Hubert Reiter, director of Protection Services, is satisfied with the response of the campus population to the new police and said that between 80 and 90 percent of people are complying. 

“We’re very please with the way this is going, but we’re not going to change anything overnight,” said Reiter, who does not foresee problems with the ban enforcement. 

“People at the University realize things are done for valid reasons and people understand,” he added. 

Currently, the ban is only being applied to what Environment and Health Safety Services deems to be main entrances, which can exclude some areas like the courtyard of the Residential Complex. The courtyard is often used as a smoking area despite the fact that it is within nine-metre of doors and residential windows. 

“It’s not a main door. Unless we have people complaining about it we will not change anything there,” said Clément. 

Clément states that re-evaluation of specific areas can be made and he urges people to notify them of any trouble. 

“If there is a problematic area. I invite people to let us know and we will evaluate the situation,” said Clément.

Facts about this editorial:

  • This article was published in the Fulcrum’s 63rd volume, in December of 2003.
  • See the University of Ottawa website regarding the updated smoking policy here.