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no-smoking sign outside mclennan library
McLennan’s smoke-free policy has been well-received. (Jack Neal/ McGill Tribune)

McLennan-Redpath smoke-free terrace well received by students

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The new smoke-free policy at the McLennan-Redpath Terrace has received positive reception since its implementation last May.

According to Colleen Cook, the dean of libraries, the new policy was created in response to criticism from the McGill community.

“[The policy was] spearheaded by the library after receiving complaints about the clouds of smoke and cigarette butts that were covering the main entrance to the McLennan Library building,” she said. “[We held discussions with] campus stakeholders and the decision was made to designate the newly-renovated space as smoke-free.”

This change may signal a renewed initiative towards supporting health-friendly zones on campus, according to Associate Vice-Principal of University Services Robert Courvette.

 “[The new terrace] could be a starting point for other places around campus for the future direction of smoke-free zones,” he said.

Cook also highlighted the importance of students’ perception of the terrace.

“For those returning to McGill after the summer break, the designation of this space as smoke-free is a change and there are always challenges when trying to shift the culture around how people use spaces they are attached to,” she said. “We want to create a healthier environment in one of the most beautiful places on campus. This is a small step towards that.”

According to Andre Costopoulous, the dean of students, the new policy will be enforced by self-regulation.

“In theory, someone could be in breach of the Code of Student Conduct if they were caught smoking on the terrace,” he said. “But I don’t see the need for such measures, as many have been understanding and have been self-enforcing the new policy”.

Much of the student response to the new policy has been positive—Asad Ali Walji, U3 Arts, said that he understands the necessity of the change.

“The fundamental purpose of the library is to create an environment where students can comfortably focus on their work,” Walji said. “The majority of students do not smoke, and I am content knowing that they don’t have to wade through a plume of smoke just to get their work done.”

Some students have deemed the new regulations to be inadequate—Sarmien, U2 Science, expressed his disappointment at the new policy, stating that the changes were miniscule.

“While it may force smokers to leave the terrace to smoke, it does not change the fact that there still are a lot of public spaces on campus where smoking is still allowed,” he said. “There needs to be an even stronger effort to either outright ban [smoking] or set up clearly demarcated smoking zones.”

The discussion about the McLennan-Repath  remains open. The Vice President University Affairs of the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Claire Stewart-Kanigan, invited students to send more feedback about the new space in order to continually develop initiatives to improve public spaces on campus. 

“The libraries will be seeking student input into the Library Master Plan throughout the upcoming year, and SSMU will be actively involved in shaping the consultation process,” she said. “SSMU will work to inform students of when and through what means these consultations will occur, and invites suggestions for ensuring effective student consultation in this major project.”

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