ACOSH is advocating for a change to the Strata Titles Act 1985 to specify that tobacco smoke is a nuisance which unreasonably interferes with the use and enjoyment of the property by others provides authority for a strata council to enact smoke free areas and comprehensive smoke free properties and provide all owners and residents with clear direction on this issue. More and more people are speaking out about the negative impact smoke drift is having on them in their own home.
In June the Health and Medicine section of The West Australian published an article ‘Neighbours fire up over smoking’ on the growing issue of smoke drift and the push for more smoke free housing. The issues around smoking in the home can be complex and can cause strong reactions in people affected by the smoke, as well as the smoker.
The dangers from secondhand smoke exposure are clear. When non-smokers breathe in secondhand smoke they inhale the same toxic and carcinogenic chemicals that smokers inhale. Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase a person’s risk of developing a wide range of serious diseases and illnesses. Vulnerable groups include infants, children, pregnant women, elderly people, people who are already struggling with health issues and people who are repeatedly exposed to secondhand smoke, even at low levels. It is estimated that more than 600,000 people worldwide die every year as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Smoke drift into homes can cause problems for owners, tenants, managers, staff and residents. It is particularly problematic for high density multi-unit housing such as apartments and retirement villages. Smoke drift can also cause significant problems in single dwelling homes.
The problem with smoking in the home is that there is no way to stop smoke drift, and there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Smoke drift from one unit in multi-unit housing can infiltrate throughout the entire building by way of balconies, patios, doors, windows, air vents, air conditioning systems, hallways, stairwells, elevators, and plumbing and electrical systems. Even when a smoker is situated some distance from the building smoke can easily drift into another unit. The only way to protect non-smoking residents from secondhand smoke exposure is to implement a smoke free policy for premises.
The advantages of smoke free housing are clear.
Smoke free housing is healthy and safe for all - ensures that all home owners, tenants, visitors, staff and contractors are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure. Smoke free living is especially important when residents are more vulnerable to the effects of smoking due to age, frailty, and poor health. This vulnerability can be compounded when residents may not have the ability to speak up for themselves about the ill affects their neighbour’s smoking is having on their lives.
Financial benefits - there are financial benefits for owners, landlords and residents, including reduced fire risk and cigarette-related burn marks that involve repair and replacement costs; reduced cleaning costs due to smoke residue stains on upholstery and walls; reduced risk of legal action; and potentially higher property re-sale/rental prices.
Avoiding potential legal liability - smoke drifting into another resident’s home can be harmful and infringes upon the rights of that resident to a safe and healthy home. This can form the basis of legal claims by that person against the smoker and the landlord.
The community supports smoke free housing - most West Australians are non-smokers, with approximately 85% of adults and 95% of school age children in West Australia choosing to not smoke. Research proves that 90% of Australians prefer to live in a smoke free environment.9 Providing smoke free housing makes sense as such housing is responsive to community demand.
If you also support such a change to the law, ACOSH would like to hear from you.
We do not claim to have written this article. This was written by ACOSH and they have agreed for us to copy this excerpt and reference back to them.
The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) is an independent, non-government, not for profit coalition of prominent West Australian health, education, community, social service and research bodies with a shared concern about smoking and health. ACOSH aims to raise awareness in the community on issues relating to smoking and health, and lobby governments in the fight against tobacco.