Why choose smoke-free housing?

By Adem Lewis / in , , /

We moved in November. At first, we didn’t really notice anything. It was kinda like Myle’s just getting colds. We get colds. And then it got really bad, like she’s starting to get pneumonia. She was sick all the time. I went to my family doctor and asked him if the reason Myle was having so much trouble breathing and with colds and pneumonia was because the fact that we were in
smoking building and he said that it could be the reason for sure. Secondhand smoke is the smoke from a
burning end of the cigarette as well as the smoke that’s exhaled by
the person who was smoking and we know that tobacco smoke contains
around 4,000 chemicals; hundreds are toxic and almost 70
actually cause cancer in humans. This is a real public health concern for us because we have a lot of people who live in multi-unit housing. There is no risk-free level of
exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is a Class A carcinogen. We know that people that
are exposed to secondhand smoke has significant health consequences ranging from acute exposure to things like
asthma to long-term health consequences like death. Health Canada estimates that 800 Canadians die each year from exposure to
secondhand smoke and those deaths are completely
preventable. Just like with the direct use of tobacco products, everybody’s at some level a risk if they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. Young children, infants carry unique risks increase risk of asthma, upper respiratory
tract infections but most serious and concerning is that
young children exposed to secondhand smoke have a significantly increased
risk of sudden infant death syndrome and that’s especially important in a
multi-unit dwelling where people can’t necessary control that exposure. We had a baby and the apartment has secondhand smoke. Neither of us smokes so we didn’t think that it would affect us in the apartment at
all but it did and very much so. We know it comes in through simple things like under the door from
decks and patios from gaps around plumbing and electrical
outlets and also from bathroom fans and kitchen fans. This is why we want to increase access to smoke-free multi-housing. A survey done the last few years by
smoke-free Nova Scotia of tenants about a third of people were
indicating that they were regularly exposed to secondhand smoke
and the vast majority of them were not happy with that. And when asked
over sixty percent said they would be supportive of smoke-free dwellings. Smoke-free housing is not discriminatory. There’s no legal right to smoke in Canada so having a smoke-free housing policy in
a multi-unit condominium or apartment what that really means is people would
agree not to smoke in the unit or in common areas and
ideally on decks and patios. We already know that many people who
smoke already choose to smoke outside so for them this is not a big change. And
we’ve seen by putting policies in place elsewhere in Canada
there’s been great success. We moved from the building into my boyfriend’s parents’ home and within three weeks we noticed her getting better. She hasn’t had to use her puffer since we moved. There’s definitely a big change. She’s even starting gaining weight. The need is there from a health perspective. The demand is there from tenants. And we need to move forward. We’re looking for a new place and a smoke-free building is definitely
a priority for us.

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