DSB social housing units will go smoke free effective January 1

MANITOULIN—Following a survey of Manitoulin-Sudbury District Service Board (DSB) tenants on going ‘smoke free’ within DSB’s social housing units, the board passed a motion that, effective January 1, 2015, a smoke free policy will be enacted.

Following the smoke free social housing issue report of January 23, surveys of DSB housing units were undertaken, asking the following five questions: do they smoke or allow smoking in the unit; their interest in designating their building and unit as smoke free; their interest in an offer of smoking cessation programs; and their interest in signing a new lease to designate their unit as smoke free.

Donna Moroso, director of integrated social services, explained that they received a 44 percent return on surveys that relayed that 57 percent of residents smoke and 42.3 percent class themselves as non-smokers.

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Staff recommended, based on the survey results, that the DSB adopts a smoke free policy based on attrition. Existing tenants may choose to adopt the policy in their units and designate the unit to be smoke free for themselves and their guests. Current residents who smoke will be grandfathered in their current unit for the duration of their tenancies, Ms. Moroso said.

She explained that a letter will be sent to all tenants on the wait list, advising them of the new smoke free policy and giving them the option to remain on the list or remove their name from the waitlist.

“Further,” Ms. Moroso added, “as it is the goal of the organization to transition buildings to smoke free, residents will be offered support from local organizations for smoking cessation programs,” explaining that the DSB has already been in contact with the Sudbury and District Health Unit which has agreed to help tenants who wish to quit.

“Once the smoke free policy is approved, non-smoking units will be identified and designated as smoke free,” she told the board. “Existing tenants, who wish to voluntarily designate their unit as smoke free, will sign an addendum to their existing lease. All new tenants will be required to sign leases that include a smoke-free requirement.”

Ms. Moroso also explained that new and amended leases will include information or the penalty for smoking in a smoke free designated unit, including a cleaning fee of $300 and possible termination of tenancy.

Derek Stephens, Central Manitoulin councillor, called the new policy “discriminatory” toward smokers.

Mr. Dominelli said that residents can still go outside to smoke and that designated smoking areas will be established and identified on each DSB property, adding that it will probably take upwards of 20 years for the buildings to be entirely smoke free.

“It is your right to smoke, but it’s not my right to smell your smoke,” said Gore Bay Councillor Lou Addison.

Espanola Mayor Mike Lehoux noted that whether buildings have smoke free units in them or not, no wall can contain the permeation of cigarette smoke within those buildings.

The motion to make DSB social housing units smoke free effective January 1, through attrition, carried.