Clearing the air: More providers are going smoke-free
In 2010, Waterloo Region Housing was one of the first non-profits in Ontario to enact a smoke-free housing policy. In 2014, Ottawa Community Housing went smoke-free. This year, two ONPHA members will be launching their own smoke-free policies: Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board has announced a policy that will take effect Sept. 1, 2015. Hastings County will follow with theirs by the end of the year.
- 80 per cent of multi-unit residents in Ontario prefer to live in a smoke-free building
- tenants with chronic illnesses and respiratory conditions may find it beneficial
- staff who work within the buildings are also less likely to be exposed to second hand smoke
- tenants, especially those who do not have the means to move as they wish, experience better indoor air quality and reduced second-hand smoke risks
- property managers experience reduced property damage and costs related to fires
- property managers find it a more desirable option than handling recurring second-hand smoke complaints
What is a no-smoking policy and how is it launched?
A no-smoking policy is a legal and enforceable clause in a housing provider’s lease that prohibits smoking in the unit, part of the building, the whole building or the entire property. Once a new tenant has signed a lease with the no-smoking policy, they are not allowed to smoke in their units or anywhere else outlined in their leases.
Current tenants are exempt from this clause for the length of their tenancy, but they can choose to sign the new lease if they wish. If not, the housing provider will need to wait until their tenancy ends. Over time, the building will gradually become 100 per cent smoke-free as the smoking tenants leave or sign new leases. In Waterloo Region, which went smoke-free five years ago, surveys show that fewer residents are smoking in their units and some smokers are smoking less.
Housing providers can eliminate tension during the transition period by clearly communicating the status of the building. This will ensure that potential tenants, both from the waiting list and market rent, know that tenants who signed leases prior to the policy may opt to smoke in their units.
For more information on how to launch a no-smoking policy, please refer to ONPHA’s infoON entitled Smoke Free Multi-Residential Apartment Buildings.