SMOKING and Strata Life


Last week’s newspaper called it the last frontier: smoking in strata and apartment buildings. My home is my castle. Or is it? Do I get to smoke in my own home where and when I want to? Sure you can, and who is going to stop you?

The funny part is that most people do not want to smoke inside their home anymore, as smoke makes their nice-looking home smelly, and turns nice clean walls brown. So, the smoker sneaks off to the deck or the porch and lights one, inhales deeply, and exhales, blowing the smoke away from themselves.

That’s all OK, you’d think. The great outdoors can absorb a cigarette or two, sure. But where does that smoke go, does it not dissipate and blend with the fresh air? It might, or it might not.
In my strata complex, my neigbours’ smoke does not evaporate in thin air. No, it gets sucked straight into my laundry room and also into the fresh air intake of my furnace, so when the heating kicks in, the smoke gets distributed throughout my home.

You see, I live in a high density complex of blocks of townhouse units, with their own entrances and porches and decks. Between each block of four units are corridors leading to the backside of the complex where the lawn, trees and cedar hedges are, and beyond the cedar hedges, a parking lot and the shopping centre.

Those corridors act as a funnel and wind tunnel for all air around the building, thus sucking the smoke right into the tunnel and it doesn’t matter which end you are on. That’s why they are called Breezeways. Between you and me, I think building those corridors, that it was a design flaw.

On the other end of the corridor and at the front of the block of units–street-side–the landscaping consists of a narrow strip of lawn with shrubs and trees, and then a sidewalk and the street, were the people walk their little doggies and let their darlings do their little doo-doo. Some of them even pick up after their companion pet.

You would think that walking the dog would be a good occasion to have a smoke and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. No, not so! The smoker obviously hasn’t got the restraint anymore to wait for a few seconds more for walking a few paces first. Smokers preferably light their cigarette right outside their front door (and my door and the breezeway) so yes, I get to enjoy a “fag” as well, involuntarily. I am not even talking now about medicinal marijuana either, just tobacco. Could you imagine when “medicine” comes into the picture? I indeed have smelled pot inside my home already too, and I wasn’t smoking it!

It is clearly against the law to smoke in front of doors, open windows and fresh air intakes; the British Columbia Tobacco Act states a smoker has to be 3 meters away, but by golly, does anybody know what 3 meters are? Most Canadians are only metric when it suits us….
By the time smoke has penetrated my home, and I go outside looking for the culprit, the perpetrator is long gone. On stat holidays and on weekends, it is so bad that my clothes smell of smoke when I leave them in my laundry room; I have to wash them again. How annoying.

Last year’s Annual General Meeting of the strata complex saw a no-smoking Bylaw voted down. The proposal was to make the whole complex smoke free. New owners would then know this is a no smoking building and smokers would eventually be replaced by nonsmokers, over time. As an interim measure and a compromise to those still smoking, the option of smoking inside your own home was offered, as a way to grandfather the new Bylaw for the current smokers.
That was fair, at least the non-smokers thought. However, the smokers were not in agreement. Some even stomped out of the meeting prematurely, all in a tiff, obviously very angry. If you smoke and like it, why not smoke then in your home? It seemed reasonable enough to the non-smokers.

It is clear that smokers do not really want to smoke and consider it a filthy habit that they do not want to practice in their own home. Rightly so!
If quitting is no option, why not step away from the building and go for a walk in the street, if you don’t want to smoke inside your home? Dear smoker, if you want to shorten your own life, be my guest, but realize that I don’t want your smoke in my home either! You can’t have your cigarette and smoke it too…so to speak.

Does anyone out there have any bright ideas how to solve this dilemma? Anybody who would share strategies on how to pass a no smoking Bylaw?


About BABYBOOMER johanna van zanten

My name is Johanna van Zanten. I am a baby boomer, interested in writing and connecting with other writers and readers to engage in discussions and information sharing, to share a point of view about current global issues, writing, and publishing, diversity, immigration, travel, music, life, specific baby boomer issues, and dating/relationship issues. I have written a novella, ON THIN ICE about baby-boomer Adrienne and will link this blog with the information website for this novella. Right now, I am trying out the blog.
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