Smoke free housing

December 22, 2015   ·   0 Comments

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act has reduced the risk of exposure to second-hand smoke outdoors. Now, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has shifted the focus indoors to multi-unit dwellings like apartments and condos. At the most recent Board of Health meeting, the board voted to forward a report recommending further discussion around smoke-free policies in multi-unit dwellings of social housing to Wellington County and Dufferin County councils.
Second-hand smoke is harmful and increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease – the second leading cause of death in Canada. Children and youth often have no say about being exposed. Yet, second-hand smoke exposure is particularly dangerous because their bodies are still developing.
“This is the start of a conversation to discuss how we can proactively look at second-hand smoke in multi-unit dwellings,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. “Each year, Public Health receives complaints from tenants pertaining to second-hand tobacco smoke entering their homes. Advocating for smoke-free housing will be an important role for Public Health moving forward.”
An Ipsos Reid survey conducted in 2010 on behalf of Smoke-Free Housing Ontario found that two thirds (66%) of apartment dwellers supported a ban on smoking in private units. Furthermore, 80 percent of respondents were very or somewhat likely to select a smoke-free building if given the choice.
Preventing tobacco smoke from seeping between units and into hallways through physical barriers is practically impossible. Second-hand smoke can enter the unit through windows, doorways, light fixtures, electrical outlets, cracks and shared ventilation systems. Currently, the only effective way to eliminate the health risks associated with second-hand smoke indoors is to ban smoking activity.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has proposed taking a similar approach to Waterloo Region Housing who achieved a smoke-free policy through a fair and consultative process with tenants, landlords and housing providers. This process included use of focus groups, committees and smoking cessation supports.
Smoke-free housing policies are not about marginalizing smokers and do not cause eviction, prevent people who smoke from renting accommodation, or force people to quit smoking. Rather, smoke-free housing policies are about providing clean, safe living spaces for all individuals.



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