Langara hopes for healthier students: Campus shifts to smoke-free

May 1 will mark the first day of the campus' smoke-free policy and the college is offering smokers resources and tools for quitting.


Reported by Nikitha Martins

Langara College will become a smoke-free campus as of May 1, following two years of open consultation and support from a majority of students and faculty.

A student enjoys one of their last cigarettes allowed on campus, as a new smoke-free policy commences May 1. (Nikitha Martins Photo)

A smoke-free committee, made up of Langara faculty and nursing students, was formed in 2016 to explore how to regulate smoking on campus. In the spring of 2017, the committee conducted a survey of staff and students, which found that 74 per cent of respondents strongly supported making the move to a smoke-free campus.

Smokers stressed out

Dawn Palmer, the committee’s vice-president, said their decision was intended to eliminate exposure to second-hand smoke and make Langara’s campus healthier.

Some institutions that we talked to took a more punitive approach in terms of compliance. We are not doing that,” Palmer said. “This is not about people needing to quit smoking, this is a health promotion initiative.”

Max Sharma, an international student, said the policy is unfair to smokers.

“It’s okay for people who are not smokers… obviously they want this to be removed from the college because they don’t smoke themselves,” Sharma said. “Having attended regular six hours of classes kind of stresses me out, so it’s better to take a break and have a smoke.”

Student demographic susceptible to smoking habits

Patricia Woods, Langara’s nurse educator, said the age group of Langara students is critical when it comes to smoking habits, as 17 to 19 year olds are in transitional periods, potentially giving them a higher opportunity to adapt a smoking habit.

“That second window re-represents itself for most people when they leave secondary school. What we know about people who smoke is a majority of smokers when surveyed say they would like to quit smoking,” Woods said. “We also know from research that the sight and smell of people smoking is a really huge trigger for them.”

College promises support

Palmer says that the committee will provide resources and tools for smokers, such as smoke-free classes and information for a potential 12-week free nicotine replacement therapy.

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