A B.C. mom has presented a petition to the legislature calling on the province to make all multi-unit dwellings smoke-free as a default status.
Naomi Baker, the mother of a 10-and-a-half-month-old child, says smoking in residential buildings can lead to serious health consequences for kids and adults who live in conjoined housing.
“The person who smokes can go outside,” Baker said. “They can use a nicotine patch, they can use gum. There are other ways these individuals can consume and partake in their habit or their lifestyle choice responsibly. Unfortunately I have no choice. I have nowhere else to go. I literally have no other option.”
Baker is set to meet with Housing Minister Selina Robinson on Thursday about possible changes.
WATCH: (Aired Jan. 7, 2019) Catherine Urquhart reports on the petition’s journey to the province
Baker moved into a Langley condo unit in 2016. They quickly realized second-hand smoke was seeping into their home from the unit below. They first tried sealing every crack, seam, outlet and opening in the walls while also speaking to their neighbour but nothing solved the problem.
“Individuals should not have to take on this fight unit by unit, building by building,” Baker said. “What we know about the risk of second-hand smoke is 100 per cent clear. You can’t smoke in workplaces. You can’t smoke on B.C. Ferries, you can’t smoke on airplanes… but when you are in your home with your family you can’t protect yourself from it. It doesn’t make sense.”
The online petition has hit 15,000 signatures and Baker has collected another 2,200 signatures by hand.
The ban has also received support from organizations such as Clean Air Coalition of BC, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, Landlord BC and Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.
Langley MLA Mary Polak, who represents Baker’s community, says there has been support from all political parties to look at the issue.
Stratas currently allow smoking unless it is banned by a two-thirds vote from owners. Polak says the province should, at minimum, require stratas to vote in favour of allowing smoking.
“One of the starting points could be to change the default. You start from the beginning and say you can smoke only if you pass a two-thirds vote that enables it. That would be strata by strata,” Polak said.
“That is one way of doing it but that is the smallest move you can make.”
The provincial government has been non-committal about making any changes. But Robinson says she is open to listening to Baker and discussing the issues raised from the petition.
“Any time you make any changes, it is always important to look what the implications are. It is a very important issue,” Robinson said.