REGINA, SK -
The Saskatchewan Housing Corporation’s announcement today to make all social housing units smoke-free later this summer is being praised by health organizations including The Lung Association and the Canadian Cancer Society. Drifting smoke in multi-unit dwellings is a significant problem and health concern for many people in Saskatchewan.
“This is the right thing to do. Children whose lungs are still developing are especially susceptible to second-hand smoke. Women who are pregnant, people who have health issues and seniors deserve protection,” says Jennifer May, Vice-President of Community Engagement with The Lung Association.
The Canadian Cancer Society and The Lung Association receive calls regularly from people suffering health consequences from second-hand smoke in their dwellings but are not able to get landlords to address their concerns.
“Many people fear retaliation or being without housing if they speak out or complain. Their housing options are limited, which is why this smoke-free policy is so important. Every child should have the right to live in a healthy smoke-free environment,” says Donna Pasiechnik, manager of tobacco control for the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan.
In a precedent-setting Saskatchewan case last year, the Office of Residential Tenancies (ORT) ordered a social housing landlord to compensate tenants of three different Regina apartment buildings for failing to address the problem of second-hand smoke infiltrating their units and the health issues they suffered as a result. The Regina Housing Authority was ordered to compensate the tenants a portion of their rent, moving and other expenses. The policy announced today is in part a response to that ruling.
The trend towards smoke-free social housing is growing. Provincial and municipal governments responsible for social housing are requiring an increasing proportion of social housing units to be 100% smoke-free. In the Yukon Territory and in the city of St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, all social housing units are 100% smoke-free. In October 2018 most social housing units in the United States will become smoke-free. University dormitories, hospitals, prisons, seniors’ homes, and many hotels are now smoke-free.
Second-hand smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, more than 70 of which can cause cancer. Second hand smoke is a cause of heart disease and lung cancer in otherwise healthy non-smoking individuals.
For more information, please contact:
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.