Public health ticketing public school students for vaping/smoking

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SUDBURY DISTRICT – In 2019, the Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) handed out eight charges of students and visitors to schools on Manitoulin Island for smoking/vaping on school property.

“For all of the Sudbury district school boards, 138 charges were laid,” stated Jean-Marc St. Jacques, who is a smoke-free Ontario Act Inspector with the PHSD, last week. 

The new Smoke Free Ontario Act came into effect in 2018 and added places where vaping and smoking would not be allowed. “This includes schools and hospitals where vaping/smoking is not allowed within 20 metres of their property. The schools or businesses are a public building and there is a duty to stop these activities taking place on these properties. But, for instance, we don’t tell a school board what or how they have to do this, but it is a duty/responsibility for them to follow these laws and regulations. If an individual school or a school board contacts us with a complaint, then we investigate. In the case of students, for example, 95 percent of the complaints we receive are sent in a form from someone having witnessed someone vaping/smoking in or on school property and they email us this report. Then we investigate the complaint talking the school administration and the student involved.”

For those 16 years of age and older they receive notice of a ticket, and for those under 16 they receive a summons “and we contact the student’s parents and inform them their son/daughter has a court notice and that they need to appear in court,” explained Mr. St. Jacques. 

“They do get charged,” he said, pointing out that for about 95-97 percent of all students who get charged-very few get a warning. “The idea is to stop vaping/smoking from taking place on school property.”

He pointed out as well, “in many cases the school has already dealt with the students and they have previously been warned.” 

The fine for vaping/smoking on school property or within a school is $305.

Mr. St. Jacques also says of all the charges laid in 2019, 90 were for vaping and the rest involved either tobacco or cannabis.

He also explained that of the 138 students charged in 2019, “the bulk of those 138 charged were students; although sometimes visitors and service providers may be at the school doing renovations for instance and are found to be vaping/smoking on the school property.”