Tobacco waste cleanup event on Burnaby Campus, November 2013.


According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco use kills almost 6 million people worldwide each year. Of these, more than 600,000 are non-smokers whose deaths are attributable to exposure to second-hand smoke.  In Canada, approximately 37,000 people die from tobacco-related illness each year including around 6000 in British Columbia.

In addition to serious health impacts, tobacco use harms the environment. Each year, nearly 4.5 trillion cigarette butts (along with packaging, matches and lighters) are disposed of worldwide into the natural environment.  Butts are non-biodegradable, and they contain heavy metals and other toxic materials that leach into the soil and waterways. This creates long-term harms to human, animal, and plant life, and pollutes the wider environment.  Discarded butts poison marine life, choke domestic pets and small children, and cause fires. Tobacco waste is the largest single source of litter on beaches and other public places. In addition to paying for harms to health, cleaning up butts and other tobacco waste is enormously expensive for our communities and society. We should protect SFU campuses, and, like the dozens of other universities worldwide that are tobacco free, our university should be a role model that other institutions can follow.

 SFU’s current tobacco control policy (GP 16, Advertising, Selling or Smoking of Tobacco on Campus)restricts tobacco advertising and sales on campus, prohibits smoking within university buildings, and restricts smoking to places at least 10 metres outside of university buildings. This means smoking remains permitted in most outside areas throughout the campus. As we have all seen, these restrictions are regularly not respected. The many violations of the policy result in exposure to secondhand smoke and tobacco waste by members of the SFU community and visitors here. These violations hurt our health, they hurt the environment, and they are frustrating and costly for staff who are responsible for cleanup and enforcement.


Tobacco-Free SFU seeks to better protect and promote the health and well-being of the SFU community, and to improve its environmental sustainability, by supporting the adoption of a Tobacco-Free Campus policy.  This policy would have the following measures:

  • Comprehensive restrictions on tobacco marketing, advertising, sponsorship and promotion
  • Complete indoor and outdoor ban on any type of tobacco except in a small number of designated smoking areas
  • A ban on tobacco industry funding for university advancement campaigns, research projects, grants, student scholarships and any other type of arrangement or association
  • A ban on companies that manufacture or sell tobacco participating in campus career fairs or other vocational or recruitment activities
  • The divestment of tobacco industry stock held by the university
  • The provision and promotion of cessation resources and services to all students, faculty and staff


Learn more about environmental harms of tobacco waste.


Current and past events.