Second Hand Smoke in Apartments

1. Second Hand Smoke in Apartments (multi-unit dwellings)
2. Second Hand Smoke

Second Hand Smoke in Apartments (multi-unit dwellings)

Multi-unit dwellings is considered any building that has more than one residential unit. Other names used for multi-unit dwellings are apartments, condominiums, semi-detached houses, row or town houses, basement suites and duplexes.

An Ipsos Reid survey conducted in 2006 concluded that 46% of people living in multi-unit dwellings in Ontario had tobacco smoke enter their unit from another unit in the building. The study also found that 64% of the people surveyed would rather live in a smoke-free residence, opposed to a building where smoking is permitted.

Second hand smoke (SHS) is a toxic combination of smoke exhaled by the smoker and the smoke released from the end of a lit cigarette, pipe or cigar that contains more than 4000 chemicals, many of which cause cancer. Multiple studies have found that SHS can travel through different openings in a smoker’s apartment into a non-smoker’s apartment and possibly throughout the entire building affecting all of the tenants.

Some of the common openings that smoke seeps through include electrical outlets, plumbing, duct work for heating and air conditioning, ceiling light fixtures, cracks in walls, floors or doors and through common hallways of the units. It is also common for smoke to seep into units through open windows from balconies and outdoor smoking areas. Some units may share ventilation or heating systems which causes the smoke to be shared amongst other residences as well. Up to 65% of the air in your unit can be coming from other units in the building depending on the age and design of the building.

When choosing a residence within a multi-unit dwelling it is important to know your rights as a tenant and the rights of the landlord or property owner/ manager regarding second hand smoke. Be aware of the harmful health effects of SHS on the other occupants within the dwelling, your family and you personally. Most importantly, keep in mind that there is no safe amount of exposure to SHS. The only safe way to protect you, your family and the other occupants within your building from SHS is to make your building smoke-free.

Additional Information:

Think Filters or Ventilation will cure the Problem?
Read about Air filters/Ventilation according to Health Canada

Learn more about second hand smoke and multi-unit dwellings:

- British Columbia Ministry of Health

- Health Canada

- Michigan Smoke-Free Apartment 

- Non-Smokers’ Rights Association

- Ottawa Council on Smoking and Health

- Smoke-Free Housing Canada

- Toronto Public Health

Second Hand Smoke

About Second Hand Smoke

• Second hand smoke (SHS) is a combination of smoke exhaled by the smoker and the smoke released from the end of a lit cigarette, pipe or cigar.
• SHS contains more than 4000 chemicals, many of which cause cancer.
• SHS causes many preventable diseases in adults including; heart disease, lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer, as well as many respiratory problems such as bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
• Children who are exposed to SHS are more likely to develop serious or possibly fatal health problems such as low birth-weight, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, middle ear infections, other respiratory infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in infants exposed.
• Approximately 1000 non-smoking Canadians die every year from lung cancer and heart disease from breathing in SHS
• Health Canada reports that in 2004, about one sixth of the Canadian population or 15% of Canadian homes reported having children exposed to SHS from cigarettes, cigars or pipes.
• The exposure to SHS can be prevented and could save lives if avoided. There is no safe level of exposure to SHS.

Additional Information:

- Canadian Lung Association

- Clean Air for Kids

- Health Canada

- Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada 

- Smoke-free Housing Ontario