Campaign to ban smoking in B.C. apartments bound for legislature

Online petition nears 14,000 while ‘paper-based’ version required by province tops 700

  • Jan. 8, 2019 2:20 p.m.

A B.C. mom whose online petition to ban smoking in multi-unit residential buildings gathered thousands of names is preparing to present her case to the provincial legislature.

Naomi Baker said because the legislature doesn’t recognize digital signatures, she has been collecting names on a “paper-based” petition since October, with the intent of presenting the petition to MLAs.

“Our intention always was to take it to the leg,” Baker said.

So far the old-school petition has gathered about 700 names, she said, “with more coming in every day.”

Her website, https://airweshare.ca/ has made the signup forms available for download and printing.

READ MORE: Langley mom wants smoking ban in multi-unit dwellings

Baker launched a Change.org petition for a “Multi-Unit Dwelling Smoking Ban in B.C.”using her maiden name of Naomi Goffman in August of last year.

It said all multi-unit dwellings in BC should be 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 stated.

Baker said it was the birth of her daughter Faith a few months earlier that inspired her campaign..

She and her husband said they have been dealing with second-hand smoke coming into their unit through the walls and fixtures ever since they bought their condo in Langley City in 2016.

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

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.

At last count, the online petition nearing 14,000 names, and while it may not officially count with the province, Baker expects the fact it generated that much support will have some weight and will be mentioned when the paper petition is filed.

“It does indicate how big an issue it is,” Baker said.,

Langley MLA Mary Polak is planning to present the petition some time after the legislature resumes sitting in mid-February.

Polak said Baker made a “compelling case” for the restriction when they met a few weeks ago.

The MLA said the petition could result in a change of law “if the government is willing to listen,.”

One possibility, Polak suggested, could be changing the default in current regulations, where multi-unit residential buildings automatically allow smoking unless owners vote to ban it.

Changing it to automatically non-smoking would require a vote to permit the practice, she said.

”That puts the onus on the people who wish to smoke,” Polak said.

Since Baker launched her campaign, she said she has discovered her family is far from alone.

“I’ve received hundreds of emails from people who are in the same position as we are.”

She said some have endured smoke as long eight years.

“They’re frustrated and so relieved that someone is bringing this to light, because they’ve been suffering,” Baker said.

“They [often] say I ended up moving because nothing was being done.”

In her own case, Baker said the smoke problem in her family’s suite has lessened.

Most of the cracks that were allowing smoke to waft into their suit have been plugged, and because the family has been filing repeated bylaw complaints with the strata council, the number of incidents has dropped.

“We get two to four days with no smoke [some weeks]” she said, but smoke still gets in through their electrical outlets.

A May 2018 poll by the Clean Air Coalition of BC 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.

Under current B.C. laws, 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Timed event rodeo set for Quesnel’s Alex Fraser Park

No spectators will be allowed at the Gold City Showdown, and ropers will qualifying for nationals

Quesnel library to re-open Sept. 24

The Cariboo Regional District closed all libraries in March due to COVID-19

COVID-19 “exposure event” at Quesnel Junior Secondary School

The school is one of two in Northern Health with exposure to the virus in the first weeks of classes

Fire hydrant and water main flushing begins Sept. 21 in Quesnel

The annual maintenance will take place throughout the city over the next three weeks

COVID-19: Northern Health assuring public it has declared no public exposure events or outbreaks

As of Sept. 17, there are 241 cases in the Northern Health Authority region

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Thousands of child care spaces coming to 35 B.C. communities

Province announces milestone in Childcare BC plan

Most Read