Smoke-Free University Policy

Category:  Administration and Operations

Approval:  Vice-Principals’ Operations Committee

Responsibility:  Vice-Principals’ Operations Committee

Date Approved:  April 24, 2019


Cannabis: Means any plant belonging to the genus Cannabis and any part of such a plant (including the phytocannabinoids produced by or found in such a plant, regardless of whether it has been processed or not), except a non-viable seed, a mature stalk without any leaf, flower, seed or branch, fibre derived from such a mature stalk, or, any part of the root of a cannabis plant, and, includes any substance or mixture of substances that contains or has in it any part of such a plant. 

Community Members:  Members of the university community include but are not limited to Queen’s employees, students, volunteers, visiting professors, contractors, visitors, and other individuals who live, work, study, or carry out services on University Property.

Medical Cannabis: Cannabis, including constituents of Cannabis, THC and other cannabinoids, used as a form of medical therapy as per a medical document issued by a healthcare practitioner.

Smoke and Smoking: To inhale, exhale, burn, heat, carry, or possess lighted or heat-not-burn Tobacco, Cannabis or other herbal products, including cigarettes, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco, hookahs or other products capable of being inhaled, or to burn, heat, vaporize or atomize any products for inhalation including tobacco, Cannabis or illegal substances.

Smoking Device: Any product or device containing or delivering any substance intended for human consumption that can be used by a person in any manner for the purpose of inhaling vapor or aerosol from the product or device. The term includes any such device, whether manufactured, distributed, marketed, or sold as, without limitation, an e-cigarette, e-cigar, e-pipe, e-hookah, or vape pen, or under any other product name or descriptor.

Tobacco Products: Products composed in whole or in part of tobacco, including tobacco leaves and any extract of tobacco leaves, but do not include any products for use in nicotine replacement therapy. They include, but are not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco, and specialized tobacco products such as chewing tobacco, smokeless tobacco, and snuff.

University Property: Any land owned, controlled, leased, used, or occupied by Queen’s University inclusive of buildings, learning spaces, open/outdoor spaces, workplaces, parking lots and university-owned Vehicles.  This does not include Bader International Study Centre (BISC) property.

Vehicle:  Operated equipment used for transporting people or goods, such as a car, golf cart, truck, bus and motorcycle.

Purpose/Reason for Policy:

The Smoke-Free University Policy (the "Policy") aligns with Queen’s University’s focus on fostering a culture of wellbeing for all who live, learn, work at and visit the university.  

Queen’s University recognizes the health hazards associated with Smoking, second hand Smoke exposure and the use of Tobacco products.  To protect the health and wellbeing of the university community, the university is committed to maintaining a Tobacco and Smoke-free environment. Research has shown that Smoke-free policies are an effective tool to denormalize the use of recreational tobacco and other inhaled products and to promote health and wellness for Community Members.  As well, Smoke-free policies support the process of changing social norms, as making Tobacco use and Smoking less visible within the community helps to establish a Tobacco and Smoke-free culture.  

This Policy identifies the need for services and resources to prevent the initiation of Smoking and use of Tobacco Products, and to facilitate Smoking cessation using a compassionate and evidence-based approach.

Scope of this Policy:

This Policy applies to all Community Members on University Property (except BISC property). This Policy will be applied in accordance with all applicable legislation, including but not limited to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Ontario Human Rights Code.  This Policy does not override or diminish the rights provided to employees under applicable university policies and/or collective agreements, and will be applied with appropriate regards to the rights established under those policies and/or collective agreements.

All events, including conferences, hosted on University Property, are subject to this Policy. 

The following exceptions apply:

This Policy does not apply to Tobacco, Cannabis or Smoking Devices used on University Property for approved teaching and/or research purposes where the research meets all regulatory and ethics approval requirements and where all appropriate protections for environmental health and safety are in place and are approved by the Department of Environmental Health & Safety.

This Policy does not apply to the use of the four sacred medicines as Queen’s University acknowledges that the use of sacred and traditional medicines such as tobacco, sweet grass, sage and cedar, forms part of the culture and heritage of Indigenous people. The burning of sacred medicines is permitted under the university’s Indigenous Use of Traditional Medicines Standard Operating Procedure.

The prohibition against Smoking of Cannabis and Tobacco Products on all University Property does not prohibit the Smoking of Medical Cannabis prescribed by a healthcare practitioner in compliance with the Accommodation section below.

Policy Statement:


Beginning June 1, 2019, Smoking and use of Tobacco Products is prohibited on all University Property, except in those circumstances specifically permitted by this Policy.

Those Smoking or using Tobacco Products in areas surrounding the university are expected to help maintain a positive relationship with university neighbours and to respect neighbouring properties.  This includes the expectation to avoid littering, Smoking, or using Tobacco Products in proximity to neighbouring private property if wafting smoke vapour, smell and/or litter can reasonably be expected to interfere with individuals’ use of their private property, and to comply with provincial legislation (Smoke Free Ontario Act) and municipal (Kingston By-Law) by-laws.

Sale and Promotion:

Advertising, promotional events, sponsorships, or the sale of Smoking products (including Tobacco Products, Cannabis and Smoking Devices) on University Property is prohibited.


Smoking Medical Cannabis prescribed by a healthcare practitioner is only permitted pursuant to an accommodation plan entered into in accordance with the Accommodations of Disabilities in the Workplace Policy (employees) or pursuant to a valid academic accommodation plan approved by Student Wellness Services (students) or pursuant to an authorization provided by a healthcare practitioner under the Cannabis Act. 

This Policy permits the use of nicotine replacement therapy products, such as patches and gum, for use in treating nicotine or tobacco dependence.

Compliance and Enforcement

All Community Members are subject to the requirements of this Policy while on University Property.  The university will adopt a flexible and supportive approach to responding to violations of this policy by Community Members. However, an individual who repeatedly violates this policy may be subject to actions, discipline or sanctions under applicable university policies and procedures.  This may include ejection/suspension from venues, non-academic misconduct sanctions under the Student Code of Conduct, employment disciplinary measures, and in severe cases, termination of a person’s relationship with the university, subject to the processes set out in university policies, procedures and applicable collective agreements.

Individuals may also be subject to civil, administrative or criminal action for violations of relevant laws, including municipal by-laws, independent of any university action.


The university will undertake education efforts related to cessation of Smoking and use of Tobacco Products, as appropriate.

Human Resources can assist university employees in determining available resources and potential benefit coverage for cessation aids for Smoking and Tobacco Products use, as applicable. Support is also available to employees through the Employee and Family Assistance Program.

Students can contact Student Wellness Services to determine available resources and the AMS or SGPS to determine if they have benefits coverage for cessation aids for Smoking and Tobacco Products use.

Support is also available through the KFL&A Public Health Unit and healthcare providers.


Community Members

  • All Community Members are encouraged to communicate this policy to other Community Members. 


  • Employees are also required to educate themselves with respect to, and comply with, their responsibilities related to Cannabis and other impairing substances as outlined in the Fitness for Work Guideline.
  • Employees who require access to Cannabis for medical purposes must contact Human Resources to create an accommodation plan in accordance with the Accommodations of Disabilities in the Workplace Policy.


  • Students are also required to educate themselves with respect to, and to comply with, their responsibilities related to Cannabis as set out in the Student Code of Conduct, the Residence Community Standards, the terms and conditions of a Lease Agreement for a university Community Housing property and the Athletics & Recreation Non-Academic Misconduct Policy.
  • Students who require access to Medical Cannabis while on University Property in order to participate fully in the academic environment must register with the Queen’s Student Accessibility Services (QSAS) unit in Student wellness Services to obtain an accommodation plan.


  • Ensure that their employees are notified of this Policy.
  • Take appropriate administrative action for non-compliance with the Policy (in consultation with Human Resources or Faculty Relations).
  • Refer to cessation support resources when requested by employees
  • Note:  All departments that engage in drafting and executing contracts are responsible for ensuring that their contracts for third-party work (contractors) on University Property clearly state that the university is tobacco and Smoke-free. Strategic Procurement Services can assist with drafting and negotiating the proper contract language.  Rental contracts for use of university space must also clearly state that the university is Smoke-free.

Human Resources

  • Provide guidance and assistance to managers and employees with respect to their responsibilities in accordance with this Policy. 
  • Provide information regarding cessation support resources when requested by employees.  
  • Encourage employees needing support for substance dependency or addiction to seek professional care and support. This may be done through the Employee and Family Assistance Program, the KFL&A Public Health Unit and healthcare providers.

Student Wellness Services

  • If a student discloses a documented disability and functional limitations that necessitate access to Medical Cannabis on University Property, QSAS will develop an accommodation plan in conjunction with the student to ensure equitable access to the learning environment. 
  • Ensure that health promotion efforts are undertaken with respect to cessation resources and supports for students.   
  • Provide information regarding cessation support resources as requested.

 Campus Security and Emergency Services

  • Respond to complaints of individuals alleged to be in violation of this Policy and educate them on the requirements of this Policy. 
  • Where appropriate, notify the applicable department of instances where an employee is believed to have violated this Policy. 
  • Where appropriate, refer instances where a student is believed to have violated this Policy to the Non-Academic Misconduct Intake Office.

Department of Environmental Health & Safety

  • Provide guidance and assistance to managers and employees with respect to their responsibilities in accordance with this Policy.
  • Communicate information about this policy through the department’s webpage and by the posting this Policy on departmental Health and Safety boards.
  • Administer request for exceptions to this policy for cultural/ceremonial use of traditional medicines.
  • Administer requests to use Tobacco, Cannabis or Smoking Devices for research purposes.

Contact Officer:  Kim Murphy, Executive Director, Risk and Safety Services

Date for Next Review:  March 2024

Related Policies, Procedures and Guidelines:

Policies Superseded by the Policy:  Interim Cannabis Smoking Policy