Naomi Baker and three-month-old daughter Faith. Miranda Gathercole Langley Times

Mom wants smoking ban in all B.C. multi-unit dwellings

Online petition presses provincial government to toughen restrictions

After two years of cigarette smoke seeping into her home, a Langley mom has launched an online petition to have smoking banned in all multi-unit residential buildings.

The Change.org petition for a “Multi-Unit Dwelling Smoking Ban in B.C.” by Naomi Baker (using her maiden name of Naomi Goffman) went up Sunday afternoon (Aug. 26) with a goal of 1,000 signatures.

By Tuesday, the number of signatures was past 700.

Baker said it was the birth of her daughter Faith three months ago that convinced her to take action.

“That definitely put us on high alert,” Baker said.

“We are bringing our little baby into an ashtray.”

Baker and her husband bought their condo in Langley City in 2016.

They said they have been dealing with second-hand smoke coming into their unit through the walls and fixtures on a “near-daily basis” since they purchased their suite.

“We’ve tried to seal every crack, use fans, open windows and avoid the rooms where the smoke is present,” Baker said.

“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 have been unsuccessful to date. “

Shortly before the Bakers moved in, strata council records show there was an attempt to make the building smoke-free, Baker said.

“The motion lost by one vote.”

The next year, a motion to ban smoking on common property bylaw passed, something the Bakers said has actually made the situation worse because the smoker can’t go out on their balcony.

“I have a right to life, I have a right to health,” Baker said.

“I’m not allowed to poison anyone else.”

The Bakers put their condo up for sale in June.

“We’ve tolerated it as long as we can,” Baker said.

The Times has reached out to the condo strata council for comment.

READ MORE: Langley City prepares new pot smoking regulations in advance of legalization

READ MORE: Court rules smoker has to butt out or move out

The petition asks Selina Robinson, the minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, to make all multi-unit dwellings in BC smoke-free.

“Smoke-free multi-unit dwellings will vastly improve the health of British Columbians, reduce the risk of apartment (and) condo fires, and reduce cost of health care by reducing preventable health issues caused by second hand smoke.”

The petition notes that the legislature currently doesn’t accept digital signatures, and asks supporters to contact their local MLA and the minister directly.

Jack Boomer, director of the Clean Air Coalition of BC, said they get an average of two to three complaints a week about second-hand smoke.

“We understand the frustration,” Boomer said.

“When people go to their workplace, they’re protected (by law from second-hand smoke), but when they are in their castle, their home, they aren’t,” Boomer said.

He noted with recreational cannabis smoking about to become legal, “I don’t think second-hand smoke problems are about to go away.”

According to a new survey commissioned by the coalition, most people would support government measures to increase the amount of smoke-free multi-unit housing.

The May 2018 poll found that half of BC multi-unit housing residents surveyed have experienced second-hand smoke exposure and nearly 90 per cent consider it harmful.

Seventy per cent said the provincial government should make all new market rate and social housing complexes 100 per cent smoke-free and the same amount supported a no-smoking bylaw by default that applies to all units, including balconies.

Baker plans to create a “paper-based petition” that will meet the legislature’s submission guidelines.

Under the current “Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act” in B.C. people are not allowed to “smoke tobacco, hold lighted tobacco, use an e-cigarette or hold an activated e-cigarette” in common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums and dormitories or transit shelters.

That includes elevators, hallways, parking garages, party or entertainment rooms, laundry facilities and lobbies.

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