The final frontier: smoking bans in apartments, condos
The Globe and Mail
25 January 2015
The private home is one of the last places where Canadians can
indiscriminately light up a cigarette without risking breaking the law.
And a growing number of people would like that to change. Specifically,
people who live in apartments, condominiums and other multiunit
dwellings where one person’s cigarette smoke can easily invade another
Controversial, yes. But also an important, necessary move.
Those against the idea say it’s unfair for anyone to dictate what they
can or cannot do in the privacy of their own home. If nowhere else,
freedom should reign in the home.
But what about the freedom of non-smokers?
Second-hand smoke kills. It contains 70 carcinogens and kills 800
Canadians each year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. Not to
mention the fact that it is linked to an increased risk of sudden
infant death syndrome, can harm pregnant women and children, can
exacerbate symptoms of asthma and allergies and even do long-term harm
to pets. Even if individuals aren’t exposed to highly concentrated
levels of second-hand smoke, it can still take a significant toll on
long-term health. Living in the same building as a smoker means that,
like it or not, you will likely be exposed to second-hand smoke and
will face increased health risks as a result.
So far, provincial and federal leaders have steered clear of the issue.
In 2011, then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty declared that banning
smoking in apartments would be too intrusive.
But that line of thinking is seriously outdated and antithetical to the
desire of the majority of those living in multiunit buildings.
For instance, a 2013 survey conducted in British Columbia found that
half of those apartment- and condo-dwellers reported being exposed to
unwanted second-hand smoke in their homes. Two-thirds said they wanted
a smoke-free environment and would support bylaws to that effect.
Even though there have been no province-wide directives yet, the move
to rid condos, apartments, community housing and other residential
buildings of cigarette smoke is gaining ground, slowly but surely,
Earlier this month, the Windsor and Essex County Health Unit endorsed a
resolution pushing landlords and managers of other multiunit buildings,
including community housing, to go smoke-free. Last year, Ottawa
Community Housing, which has more than 32,000 residents, officially
went smoke-free. Across the country, individual buildings are
increasingly introducing smoking bans and some condos are specifically
marketing their smoke-free status to attract buyers and tenants.
Elsewhere, jurisdictions in California, Australia and Germany are
looking at bans or restrictions on smoking in apartments.
Looking at the current trend, it seems like it’s only a matter of time
before smoking in an apartment building seems as antiquated as lighting
up in an airplane or a hospital room. But which municipality or
province will be brave enough to be among the first to make this change