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Smoke-and-Vape-Free Areas

Creating a physical environment that supports health and wellbeing is key to activating the Okanagan Charter at UBC. Implementing designated smoke-and-vape-free areas around our campuses is just one way that the University is transforming its built and natural environment to create a happier, healthier campus community. To learn more about UBC's policy informing smoking and vaping on campus, visit UBC Smoking/Vaping Policy (SC2).

Health Precinct Smoke-Free Area

Tobacco, cannabis and vaping products contain many harmful carcinogens that negatively impact health and wellbeing. Led by Campus + Community Planning, a number of departments and stakeholders collaborated to implement a health-precinct smoke-and-vape-free area, furthering UBC’s commitment to wellbeing of our people and places, and ensuring that visitors to our hospital and surrounding buildings have access to an environment that supports their healing. 

The “health precinct” was recommended as a site for a smoke-free area; this informal precinct, where several health-affiliated buildings are situated, is an ideal location because it expands on the UBC Hospital and Vancouver Coastal Health’s existing smoke and vape-free zone policies, while also aligning with the health-related research and services that take place within the buildings. 

The smoke-and-vape-free boundary is bordered by Agronomy Road, University Boulevard, Wesbrook Mall, and East Mall and will extend to the edge of the sidewalk closest to the hospital site. Smoking is permitted outside of this smoke-free area, as long as it is not in buildings, bus shelters, inside university vehicles, or within eight meters of doors and air-intake vents, 

It is particularly important that this area exemplify good health practices, because people go there to heal and get well. Providing equitable access to healthy green spaces for patients and visitors, and preventing second hand smoke exposure will help promote their wellbeing.  

Community Engagement 

Following the recent legalization of cannabis, UBC was required to amend Policy SC2 (formerly Policy 15), to include smoking, vaping and cannabis. During consultation, there was strong community support to explore the possibility of designated smoke-free areas on campus, and UBC Executive recommended an area of campus where numerous health-affiliated buildings are situated (known informally as a “health precinct”) as a potential site. 

Throughout early 2019, UBC Vancouver engaged in “Dialogues on Smoking,” to allow community members (both smokers and non-smokers) to share their thoughts about a smoke-free area in this location. Again, this engagement showed strong support for this proposal. 

As stewards of UBC’s public realm, Campus + Community Planning is responsible for coordinating policies that affect land use. After community and stakeholder conversations, C+CP has opted to move forward with implementing a smoke-free zone to support the health and wellbeing of UBC's visitors and community members, as well as VCH's existing smoke-free premises policies. 

For more information about cannabis on campus, visit the University counsel website. 

Partners and Stakeholders 

The health precinct smoke-free area is a collaborative initiative, led by Campus + Community Planning to support wellbeing in our built and natural environments. The following campus and community partners have guided the development and implementation of a health-precinct smoke-free area. 


Library Garden Smoke-Free Area 

The revitalization of Library Garden was integrated with the process to design the Indian Residential Schools History and Dialogue Centre, which is situated within the gardens. This space was planned and designed with human health and wellbeing in mind.

Library Garden was designated smoke-free as part of its planning and design process under the SITES Rating System for Sustainable Land Design and Development. This rating system is used to define sustainable landscapes, measure how they are performing, and elevate the value of the landscapes as a result of their sustainable features. UBC is seeking SITES designation for Library Garden. 

Under section 6 of SITES, Human Health and Wellbeing is outlined as a consideration in design, with minimizing exposure to smoke specifically noted as consideration in SITES designation. Campus + Community Planning took this into account when designing Library Garden, and the space was designed to be smoke-free to support the health and wellbeing of our community members and provide them a relaxing space for quiet contemplation.

Community Engagement 

The process to re-design Library Garden and design the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre was led by a shared Steering Committee, coordinated technical working committees for the Garden and Dialogue Centre, as well as a Planning Advisory Committee of campus stakeholders.

For more information on the engagement and design process, visit the C+CP website. 


UBC Okanagan Smoke-Free Area

Policy SC2 is also applicable to UBC Okanagan, with smoking, vaping and cannabis prohibited everywhere on campus except designated gazebos. 

Gazebos in which cannabis smoking is permitted

  • East of the Transit Exchange and EME building
  • Monashee residence gazebo (between Similkameen and Monashee)
  • Kalamalka residence gazebo (Between Kalamalka and Nicola)

Gazebos in which only tobacco smoking is permitted

  • East exit of the Administration (ADM) building
  • Between the Arts (ART) and Creative and Critical Studies (CCS) buildings
  • Temporary shelter north of the UNC building

For more information, visit the Campus Health website. 

Resources for Nicotine Withdrawal and Smoking Cessation 

UBC and VCH are committed to helping our community members live happier, healthier lives. Here are some resources for those interested in quitting or reducing their use of tobacco, cannabis or vape. 



    1. Why have smoke and vape-free areas on campus? 

    UBC has made a formal commitment to health and wellbeing, by adopting the Okanagan Charter on our campuses, and through developing the Wellbeing Strategic Framework. 

    Implementing a smoke and vape-free area in the health precinct supports this commitment, as well as the Vancouver Coastal Health’s Smoke-free Premises Policy. As a health care provider, Vancouver Coastal Health has an obligation to promote good health practices and has been completely smoke-free on all VCH properties since 2008. Smoke-free policies: a) are associated with lower smoking rates and make it easier to quit; b) protect young adults from both exposure to second-hand smoke and social exposure to smoking, and c) reduces tobacco litter on campus.

    Tobacco use is a significant burden on all Canadians, costing society $16.2 billion in 2012 – $466 for every Canadian. This includes costs associated with direct health care, fire, policing, research and prevention as well as lost productivity due to disability and premature death. Cannabis smoke contains many of the same carcinogenic exposures as tobacco smoke, while vaping has extensive negative effects on airways. A smoke and vape-free health precinct area will support the healing that takes place in many of the buildings in this area by limiting exposure to second hand smoke, and allowing all community members to use and enjoy the surrounding green spaces. 

    Library Gardens was designated smoke-free as part of its planning process under the SITES Rating System for Sustainable Land Design and Development. Section 6 of SITES outlines Health and Wellbeing design considerations, with minimizing exposure to smoke being a consideration for credit towards designation. These tranquil gardens are an excellent place for quiet contemplation and mindful moments.  

    2. Does this smoke-free area include cannabis and vaping?

    Yes, the smoke-free area is applicable to tobacco, vaping, and cannabis.

    3. Are there exceptions?

    The exception in the health precinct is smoke used for cultural practice, including the ceremonial use of Aboriginal traditional medicines such as tobacco, sage, cedar, and sweetgrass in a designated ceremonial site separate from other patients.

    4. I work/attend classes in one of the buildings in the smoke-free areas. Where can I smoke on my break?

    We understand that for faculty and staff who work in the designated smoke-free areas, or for students who have classes, this may mean a change to their typical smoking locations. 

    The boundary map shows the health precinct smoke-free area. The smoke-free area will extend to the edge of the sidewalk closest to the hospital site. We estimate that buildings that are furthest from the smoking-permitted area are a maximum of a 4.5 minute walk. Smoking is permitted outside of the smoke-free area, as long as it is not in buildings, bus shelters, inside university vehicles, or within eight metres of doors and air-intake vents. 

    Smoking is not permitted within Library Garden, however it is permitted outside the perimeter, as long as it is not in buildings, university vehicles, or within eight metres of door and air-intake vents. 

    5. What happens if I smoke in the smoke-free area?

    We ask that UBC community members and visitors respect the smoke-free area and our commitment to wellbeing by not smoking within the boundaries. However, there are no fines or bylaw infractions for those found contravening the smoke-free area.

    It is not UBC’s intent to force people to quit, but to create a healthier environment for all our community members and visitors. If found smoking within the smoke-free area, you will be asked to move and directed towards the permitted area. For VCH staff, volunteers and contractors, the VCH Smoke-Free Preminses Policy is in affect (see below). 

    6.   How does the smoke-free area affect Vancouver Coastal Health staff working at UBC Koerner Hospital, Detwiller Pavilion and Purdy Pavilion?

    The VCH Smoke-Free Premises Policy is still in effect in the smoke-free health precinct.  VCH staff, volunteers and contractors in non-compliance will be subject to progressive discipline as per VCH Smoke-Free Premises Policy.

    7. What do I do if I see someone smoking in the designated smoke-free area? 

    If you are comfortable doing so, please feel free to gently remind the person that this is a smoke-free zone, as they may not be aware. Alternately, you may contact UBC Security (604-822-2222). If a member of the security team is nearby, they will ask that person to move to the designated smoking-permitted area.

    UBC Security has an existing process in place for monitoring and recording incidences of smoking. They will continue to take this approach and findings will be used to evaluate this initiative.  

    8. I am a student/faculty/staff member at UBC Okanagan. Is there a similar policy in place there? 

    At the Okanagan campus, smoking is prohibited everywhere except in designated gazebos. Campus Operations and Risk Management, and Campus Health and Wellness actively collected information about gazebo use from October 17, to the end of November 2018, and again in the spring of 2019. Findings will further support the revised Policy SC2. 






    Initiatives Menu

    Figure A: This signage will be displayed in areas that are designated smoke-free on the UBC Vancouver campus. 


    This initiative is a collaborative effort, implemented by Campus + Community Planning, to support wellbeing in UBC’s built and natural environments, one of six priority areas for action identified in the Wellbeing Strategic Framework

    We all have a hand in shaping campus environments that support health, wellbeing, and sustainability. By championing wellbeing, we can build stronger and more inclusive communities at UBC and beyond.