Downtown co-op first in Canada to butt out

SEE VIDEO http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/07/24/downtown-co-op-first-in-canada-to-butt-out

Trevor Hache and his partner Jocelyn are happy their newborn son, Malcolm, can soon breathe clean air at home.

Just a few weeks old, Malcolm arrived 5 1/2 weeks early.

“Everyday, the nurses and doctors there, they were telling us about the dangers of secondhand smoke from a premature baby perspective and how, for babies in general, young children, it’s the No. 1 cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome,” said Hache.

Their downtown co-op is the first in Canada to go 100% smoke-free after Conservation Co-op residents voted 73% in favour of the bylaw last week.

The ban applies to smoking cigarettes or marijuana in units, balconies and the entire property at 140 Mann Ave. in Sandy Hill, effective Jan. 19, 2013.

“We’re looking forward to that day,” said Hache, chairman of the building’s secondhand smoke committee.

That means residents who want to move out because of the bylaw have six months to find a new place.

“But hopefully, most people will choose to stay and just smoke outside,” said Hache.

Three designated outdoor smoking areas are available, effective immediately, for one year.

Once the year is up, the co-op board will also examine banning smoking outside.

“When we first moved into this building three years ago, we were experiencing a lot of second-hand marijuana smoke, and it’s dangerous, whether it’s marijuana smoke or tobacco smoke…and we should not be exposing people to it,” said Hache.

The four-storey building houses 84 units and about 100 residents.

The board has agreed to a 50-50 cost sharing basis to pay for a smoking cessation course or workshop for smokers who want to quit.

“And should they complete the course or workshop, the board will pay 50% of the cost of participating in that smoking cessation course for that smoker,” said Hache.

Second-hand smoke has more than 4,000 chemicals and a minimum of 70 carcinogens, according to Health Canada.

At least 800 non-smoking Canadians die each year due to lung cancer and heart disease from second hand smoke.

“It is by far and away the No. 1 reason why people contact our organization,” said Pippa Beck from the Non-Smokers’ Rights Association.

In the last fiscal year, they fielded around 350 calls between three offices in Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto.

Beck calls the no-smoking policy a win-win situation.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

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