Editorial: Make homes smoke-free

It’s a little ironic that you can count on government protection from second-hand smoke in a restaurant, but not in your own home.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation in B.C. and the B.C. Lung Association are working to raise awareness of the problems too many apartment and condo dwellers encounter when fumes waft into their residences, compliments of their smoking neighbours.

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It’s not just unpleasant and smelly — it poses health concerns for people with respiratory diseases. An Angus Reid survey shows that 50 per cent of respondents who live in apartments or condos have experienced second-hand smoke from neighbours. The smoke can creep in through ventilation systems. A neighbour might go outside to smoke on a balcony, with the fumes drifting into nearby apartments.

According to a joint statement from the two groups, more than 1,000 non-smokers die each year in B.C. from lung cancer and heart disease caused by second-hand smoke. They encourage landlords and strata corporations to protect their residents from such dangers by making buildings smoke-free, similar to restrictions on loud music.

Sure, closing windows and balcony doors might help keep out some of the smoke, but that is an unfair restriction on a homeowner or apartment tenant. It is incumbent on smokers to ensure their smoke does not affect others, and that should apply to apartment and condo complexes, just as it applies to public spaces.

More information can be found at smokefreehousingbc.ca.

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