Smoke-free Stratas?

Here’s the thing: Smoking is risky for your health and second-hand smoke victimizes everyone who shares your airspace. The thing about airspace? Is it a wide open space or tight quarters? Smokers in tight quarters are more problematic than smokers in wide open spaces. Of course, lately public parks have become smoke free zones largely, I assume, because of the proximity of persons enjoying the space. Strata living definitely presents issues for both smokers and non-smokers.

I appreciate a person’s inalienable right to inhale toxic substances that could cause them harm. Afterall, life is all about the choices we make and the learning opportunities those choices present. How’s that for open-mindedness? I suppose some of my habits could easily fall under categories that would require some hard second looks especially if they negatively impact myself as well as others. Unfortunately, judgments and expectations abound for each of us and contribute to perceptions and positions we use against one another.

The health thing though I believe is a little different. Generally,I try to empathize about addictions and all the problems they create for a person. I have minimal tolerance for the problems and contention created by smoking addictions. I realize how this must sound because all addictions wreak havoc in some form or another for all parties to them. Smoking causes cancer and a numerous list of chronic lung diseases. Smoking can exacerbate a person’s proclivity for lung disease. Smoking stinks. Smokers, generally, are untidy with their habit which costs everyone either through environmental mess (litter and air pollution)or safety hazards (fires). The list goes on…..

I happen to have asthma so does one of my children.Asthma can go from mild to acute in seconds. An attack can make you incapable of air intake which of course makes you feel like you are suffocating. If you happen to be susceptible to it, cigarette smoke can trigger an asthma attack or an allergic reaction which may or may not lead to an asthma attack. I’ve had a few frightening asthma attacks which make me extremely cautious around smokers. The smell of a burning cigarette is extremely offensive to me so avoidance gets me out of a smoking environment……except in the swamp.

The swamp was created for aesthetics over privacy. Afterall, the swamp is a strata community. Some of us share balconies with minimal separation. In my case, I share airspace with the greenthumb also a profligate smoker. She doesn’t smoke within her unit because panzerboy is a non-smoker and would probably unleash a verbal assault she is too weak,surprisingly, to confront. So, greenthumb smokes outside and all of her secondhand refuse wafts into my windows. It’s worse in the summer of course but even in winter smoke stench finds its way in. It’s ironic isn’t it that she smokes outside to protect her interior at the expense of mine?!

If persons can’t smoke in communal environments like bars, restaurants and public parks then why are smokers given so much latitude in stratas…..the very embodiment of community?

Well it’s all about ownership and how individuals perceive it. Stratas are a quagmire of subjective perception and interpretation. Smoking is one thing amongst an array of things to be sure. Personally, I believe smoking should be illegal in a community living environment whether it be an apartment building or attached buildings. There are more non-smokers in stratas if I’m to believe the latest statistics. In a democracy, majority votes rule the day. Perhaps strata councils should consider this and draft a bylaw banning cigarette smoke while the jury is still out on whether or not it is an inalienable right. I bet a complaint about marijuana smoke would produce a different result because marijuana is actually an illegal substance. Wait a second, I forgot about the medicinal use conundrum…..I guess there will have to be safe smoking sites alongside the safe injection ones. If you aren’t in pain or terminal then secondhand marijuana smoke wafting into your strata unit would be use of an illegal substance – right?

Smoking in a strata complex will not be resolved easily but, in the meantime, I’ll hope that greenthumb eventually lavishes the same attention on the health of her lungs as she does on her annuals. Perhaps she’ll have a shot at longevity like her perennials if she chooses to kick her habit. Lastly,I’ll hope that my government will do the right thing and ban smoking from stratas as it has banned smoking from public parks and facilities.

Good health begins at home!

One comment on “Smoke-free Stratas?
  1. Mathew Peake says:

    Hi Strata 101,

    Great article, I totally hear what you’re saying. I too have been at the receiving end of “open air” smokers in our North Vancouver apartment.

    I believe that smoking should be addressed more throughly in BC’s Property Act (and accompanying standard bylaws).

    To the best of your knowledge, have many Vancouver area stratas banned smoking outright?

    Nice Job,



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