Multi-Unit Dwelling Smoking Ban in BC
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**Preface (in case you don't read the entire text, but please do or at least the last paragraph as well!): after signing online, please go to airweshare.ca/raise-your-voice to download a copy of the paper-based formal petition that we can submit to the BC Legislature. Please also let us know if you have other ways you are interested/willing to help this campaign! And check back regularly as there are frequent updates on how things are going.**
We bought a condo in Langley in 2016 and have been dealing with second hand smoke coming into our unit through the walls/fixtures on a near-daily basis for over 2 years. It has been a significant concern for us since we discovered the issue on our move in day, but since getting pregnant and now having a 3 month old baby in our home, we aren't willing to be silent and take it anymore. We have decided instead to take action to get laws in place to secure our daughter's health!
Smoking and second hand smoke have known, severe, health consequences. There is such strong evidence for these facts that smoking has been banned in public places, within specific distances from doors/windows, in restaurants/bars, in vehicles with children under 16, and even on ferries. As of August 2018 it’s even now been banned in all public housing in the USA and in Saskatchewan. Every single source clearly identifies the health consequences of smoke, and with respect to second hand smoke, sources also clearly state that there is no safe level of exposure. Furthermore, consequences to health of an infant are even greater. Every night we go to sleep praying that our daughter wakes up the next morning as second hand smoke exposure increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and she is exactly in the 2-6 month age window when the risk is at its greatest. Never mind the additional risks she has of developing asthma, allergies and other health issues.
We've tried to seal every crack, use fans, open windows and avoid the rooms where the smoke is present. We've tried approaching the neighbour who smokes. We've also lodged multiple complaints to the strata asking for them to help address the issue. But all of our attempts that been unsuccessful to date. The strata tried making the building smoke-free in 2016 but the motion lost by one vote. The strata successfully passed a no smoking on common property bylaw in 2017 but that made our situation worse as now the neighbour smokes only inside his suite (instead of on the balcony) and so it comes up through the walls/fixtures even more. We've asked the strata to have the ventilation system checked - but they are concerned about the potential cost to fix it. They are also concerned about the "smoker's right" to smoke in their unit and maintaining the peace. The problem is we have no choice about breathing. A smoker could choose to go outside to smoke or use a nicotine patch if our building was smoke-free but we cannot choose whether or not to breathe. We literally have to breathe in the toxins with the laws as they currently stand, or leave our condo (which we often do) to escape to fresh air outside.
And so it is clear that we need legislation put in place to remove the control/decision power from the stratas/property managers. Only 13% of British Columbians smoke and yet the 87% that don't are stuck with being poisoned by the toxic fumes from their second hand smoke. Our Canadian Bill of Rights states that we have "a right to life", but the current strata laws in BC by default allow smoking in stratas, and you need a 75% vote to change a bylaw. We need laws that protect our health and uphold our "right to life" within our homes, where we spend more time than we do at work (which already has such laws).
And so we are petitioning the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia via the Honourable Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to make all Multi-Unit Dwellings in BC smoke-free. All means market, rental, social - any dwelling that has multiple units sharing walls/air. Smoke-free multi-unit dwellings will vastly improve the health of British Columbians, reduce the risk of apartment/condo fires, and reduce cost of healthcare by reducing preventable health issues caused by second hand smoke. Specifically for us, this change will allow us to breathe deeply and sleep soundly knowing we have done everything we can to create a healthy home for our beautiful, baby girl Faith, and knowing our health won't be compromised when we spend time together as a family in our home.
Thank you for supporting our cause. As the BC Legislature currently doesn't accept digital signatures, we ask that you sign this as a statement that you stand united with us, but if you are a BC resident we also ask that you additionally contact your local MLA and/or Honourable Selina Robinson directly to voice your desire for this change! Our paper-based petition that meets the BC Legislature's submission guidelines is ready and available on our airweshare.ca website so please ensure to sign and mail it to me by February 6, 2019. Thanks again!
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