October 20, 2009 - Peel's top public health officials are lobbying to ban smoking from apartments and condos in an effort to limit second-hand smoke inhalation. If their push is successful, apartment dwellers would not be able to smoke in their own homes.
The Regional Municipality of Peel (also know as the Peel region) is a regional municipality in Southern Ontario. It consists of 3-municiplaities to the west and northwest of Toronto: the cities of Brampton and Mississauga and the town of Caledon. Peel Region is the second-largest municipality in Ontario after Toronto.
The region's council is going to examine a report co-authored by Commissioner of Health Services Janette Smith, and Dr. David Mowat, Peel's medical officer of health. Their report says that Peel Public Health has received complaints from apartment tenants about smoke seeping into their homes. “Non-smoking residents of multi-unit dwellings have the right to enjoy their residence without enduring the negative health effects and nuisance associated with second-hand smoke.”
"Tobacco smoke can seep from various openings in a multi-unit dwelling, including electrical outlets, plumbing, ductwork, ceiling light fixtures, cracks in wall, floors or doors and through common areas, such as hallways," wrote Smith and Mowat in the report. "Some units may share ventilation or heating systems, which can further spread the smoke throughout a building."
Their findings prompted an investigation into whether the city has the authority to ban smoking inside apartments.
Under the Municipal Act of 2001, Peel can invoke a bylaw preventing tenants from smoking, but Smith and Mowat suggest the best route would be to persuade Queen's Park (the Ontario Legislative Building). The province's current ban on smoking applies only to enclosed public spaces, as well as elevators and hallways in apartment buildings. But it does not stop people from smoking in their homes.
"I don't actually think that we need to be asking the province because I think it's already happening," said Pippa Beck, a policy analyst for the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "We have market forces on our side, landlords are recognizing the financial benefits, which are not insignificant, and there is more and more demand for smoke-free living."
Beck noted several municipalities in Ontario, including Kitchener-Waterloo and Hamilton, are taking steps to ban smoking in residences.
This month, councillors in Kitchener-Waterloo decided, starting in April, new tenants in apartments owned by Waterloo Region would not be allowed to smoke at home.
The region had been receiving an average of five calls a month from tenants complaining about second-hand smoke seeping into their dwellings from other units and open windows. Those calls represented about 20 per cent of all tobacco-related complaints received by the region, according to a regional report.
In Peel, individual landlords of apartments are also choosing to make their buildings smoke-free. In July 2006, a smoke-free 53-unit housing complex opened on Cummer Ave. in North York. In 2008, the owner said one tenant had left because of the policy.
Peel's council votes Thursday, October 22nd on whether to approach the province about the recommendations.
Ontario law banning smoking in cars with children took effect in January 2009.
Reference: Smoking ban urged for Peel condos and apartments, Madeleine White Staff Reporter, HealthZone.ca, 10/19/2009; Peel Public Health wants apartment buildings smoke-free by PETER CRISCIONE, FreeDominion.com, 10/19/2009.