Take a few minutes to look through the resources we have developed on smoke-free housing (listed below) and come back and visit our site again as we continue to add new materials. We also encourage you to visit the national smoke-free housing website at www.smokefreehousing.ca, where you can find resources specific to Nova Scotia, B.C., Ontario and Quebec.
Second-hand smoke in multi-unit dwellings (apartments, condos, housing co-ops, townhouses, etc.) is an emerging public issue. Now that most Canadians are protected in public places and workplaces, demand for other smoke-free environments is on the rise. According to a 2010 public opinion survey, 80% of Ontarians living in multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) would likely choose a smoke-free building over one where smoking is permitted, all other things being equal. This is up from 64% in 2006. Unfortunately, such choices are extremely limited as the housing sector has been slow in responding to the increasing public demand for smoke-free accommodation. Indeed, the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association receives more calls on this issue from the general public than any other.
There are various ways that smoke infiltrates other people’s private units. Indoor air studies show that, depending on the age and construction of a building, up to 65% of the air in a private residence can come from elsewhere in the building.
Second-hand smoke is more than a nuisance – it’s a toxic mix of more than 4,000 chemicals. In 1992 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified SHS as a “Group A” carcinogen, a category reserved for the most dangerous compounds proven to cause cancer in humans. There is no known safe level of exposure. Two major reviews of the scientific evidence emphasize that long-term exposure to SHS substantially increases risk of heart disease and lung cancer in adults. Those with pre-existing health conditions like asthma, emphysema, angina or diabetes are particularly vulnerable to SHS. For children, exposure to SHS is a proven cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as well as ear infections, asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.
In light of the strong scientific evidence about the harmful effects of SHS on individuals’ health, the only way to fully protect tenants’ health is to eliminate all indoor smoking in MUDs.