CCI Huronia Newsletter, Winter 2019 Issue
Smoke Free Condominiums: Healthy, Legal and In Demand!
Leslie Gordon, Program Co-ordinator, Tobacco-Free Living Program, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
Not long ago the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit got a call from a woman who had moved into a condominium townhouse. At the time of purchase she said she never thought twice about what went on behind closed doors at her neighbours. But now she does!
“When I moved in I found out my neighbor smoked. She tried to be considerate but we all share a common roof here and drifting smoke has no conscience. I could smell it in certain rooms of my unit, and I couldn’t sit out on my patio if she was outside too.
“Thank goodness she has since quit smoking, but I can’t imagine what it will be like if more people move in and smoke in my complex.”
Our caller’s complaint was not unique. We hear regularly from people looking for help to stop drifting smoke coming into their units to protect their health and that of their children. Most say they wish they had checked to make sure the building or complex was No Smoking before they committed to buying or renting.
Our caller said she did reach out to a few condo board members for help but was told that they didn’t want to rock the boat with existing owners, or spend money on lawyer’s fees to make changes to the declaration, so they have been putting off addressing the issue.
It’s an omission that could be costly for all owners in the long run especially with the new legislation for recreational cannabis that opens the door to smoking pot – which has a pungent, lingering odour – that will no doubt drift between units and in common areas just like tobacco smoke.
If you are a condominium owner there are very compelling reasons to advocate for a change in your declaration, bylaws or rules to ban smoke of any kind. They include:
- Protection from secondhand smoke and third-hand smoke -- the chemical residue left behind when the smoke settles.
- Reduced fire risk. The Fire Marshall’s office has identified smoking as the leading cause of fatal home fires.
- Lower maintenance costs and fewer complaints.
- Better resale values and a larger market for your unit or building.
Luckily condominiums are in a unique position to keep the air clear of all smoke because the Condominium Act allows boards, with the support of owners, to make changes to ban smoking in the building. The board can choose a set date that gives existing owners who smoke time to adapt before the change is implemented, or it can grandfather owners who smoke to allow them to smoke in their units as long as they live there.
The health unit has links to step-by-step resources available to help condo owners and boards start the process to make their building 100 per cent No Smoking to protect everyone entering and living there from the health hazards of breathing secondhand smoke. For more information visit the website at www.simcoemuskokahealth.org or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.
Has your condo gone No Smoking?
Share your info with the Health Unit for our database of healthy housing.