This article about smoke free strata living has been provided by Non-Smokers’ Movement of Australia Inc.
Most of us (and our families) can enjoy an almost totally smoke-free life – work, travel (cars, boats, planes, ferries), play, shop, visit medical centres and hospitals, go to school and university, go to sports, go to the zoo, to community events, dine out, go to the beach, and to outdoor recreation areas and wildlife parks.
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That is, until someone moves into the unit nearby – and smokes at any time of day, inside, and outside on their balcony. The toxins in their tobacco smoke drifting up and around and into your space, and seeping up inside your property through any gap or vent or ducting. The smell hits you and sticks with you –– you could block loud noise with earplugs but you can’t block your mouth and nose from air – you must breathe. The toxins penetrate into neighbouring units.
And yet, there is no legal obligation to provide a space for smoking.
According to Health Departments all over Australia – there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.
The toxins in the smoke can trigger potentially deadly heart and lung diseases such as asthma, COPD (Cardio Pulmonary Obstructive Disease), SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and lung cancer, as well as causing ear and throat irritations.
If you can smell tobacco smoke then the toxins are going into your lungs and DOING HARM.
When you move into a multi-unit property, such as units or strata, you are moving into a community, and this entails making some adjustments which differ from living a single-dwelling lifestyle. You will share entrances, share driveways, share some facilities such as pools/ recreation areas/drying facilities/barbecues. You will also be expected to respect your neighbours’ right to quiet enjoyment of their home and not to cause nuisance.
Smoke Free Strata Living
Declaring your Strata Corporation smoke-free and enjoying smoke free strata living is not discriminatory – smokers would be entitled to live there, simply not to smoke on the property. (Nor can they make loud noises or fire guns). Conversely, allowing smoking on a property could be regarded as discriminatory as many people who are allergic to, or who suffer from heart and lung disease would be physically unable to live there.
A lessor can legitimately insert a smoke-free clause in a tenancy agreement. This means that nobody may smoke in the tenanted property. (This could lead to lower maintenance costs and potentially lower insurance costs.)
It is suggested by some that smoking is legal, so people should be able to smoke in their own home, but, where that smoking affects others it can be regarded as nuisance and can be acted against. Tobacco may be a legally available product but, rather like cars, guns and chainsaws, should not be used where it may do harm to others.
Smokers (nicotine dependants) now have easy access to alternative nicotine replacement products (patches, gums, sprays, lozenges, NOT e-cigarettes). These products don’t harm the user nor anyone in the vicinity. They are used for long-distance flights, and for long work-periods. (Even inmates in many prisons now have safer living conditions, with assistance from these products.)
Families should not be obliged to barricade themselves into their homes (shutting windows and doors and sealing up ducting and air-conditioning ducts in order to prevent the spread of the toxins.) They should not be forced, as has happened in some cases, to go to the extreme of selling up or moving out to another unit for smoke free strata living, with the possibility of the same problem recurring. Some Australian families would choose to live in single dwellings but simply cannot afford to move away from multi-unit dwellings (flats/units).
An Owners Corporation of a property which is currently smoke-free should seriously consider introducing a smoke-free by-law immediately – current owners would set their standard for the future by declaring the entire property smoke-free. After all, smokers are by now accustomed to being asked to move away from others to smoke. This would also be the case for visitors. Such smoke-free regulations already exist in hotels and motels around Australia.
The Non-Smokers’ Movement of Australia Inc. (NSMA) is a community organisation, formed in 1977, with the aim to gain everybody’s right to breathe clean air, free from the well-known poisons in second-hand tobacco smoke.
There is no safe level of second-hand tobacco smoke.
Additional Resource: Cancer Council NSW: An information kit for tenants and owners in strata schemes
This post appears in Strata News #109
Are you interested in more information about smoke free strata living or information particular to strata legislation in your state or territory? Visit our FactSheets: Strata Smoking OR Strata FactSheets by State pages.
The photo associated with this post has been supplied by Flickr: Ida Myrvold – SMOKE
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