Indisputable! Undeniable! Confirmed and Verified by Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing
Retrieved under Freedom of Information recently, the attached letter from Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing, responds to the issue of secondhand smoke seeping from one unit to another in multi-unit complexes.
While this standardized letter responds to the matter of secondhand smoke under the Strata Property Act, non-profits and market rentals each have their own Acts mentioning the section of quiet enjoyment and health standards.
Rich Coleman cites Raith v Coles(1984), which I include under Case Law, stating that “no matter what bylaws are in place, the common law of Nuisance allows a strata resident bothered by smoke to take another strata resident of the complex to court to request an order that the smoking cease.”
Rich Coleman states that [secondhand smoke] “is not simply an issue between neighbours,” and that when “someone causes a nuisance, Strata Councils, must enforce the bylaws by taking steps to deal with the nuisance.”
The common law of Nuisance, as written into the various Acts governing housing “prohibits an owner, tenant, occupant, or visitor from causing a nuisance or hazard to another person,” and that, “...loud noise, smoking or bad odours may all fall under this bylaw.”
People write to their MLA's, the Premier's Office, and to the Ministry's of Health and Housing, asking that the government modify the housing Acts to include secondhand smoke, to make it clear and unequivocal. After six years, this kind of amendment never happened, because, technically, it doesn't need to. Mr. Coleman's standardized response now confirms that. The responsible persons remain the managers and landlords and councils and boards to enforce under existing bylaws and common laws, be it Nuisance, or Human Rights or Residential Tenancy (RTB).
RTB decisions retrieved under Freedom of Information at the same time, show an increase in cases filed by tenants and landlords, as well as better written decisions by Dispute Resolution Officers. The weakness I see in the decisions remains that both tenants and landlords do a poor job of gathering evidence and presenting it. Of course, the Dispute Resolution Officer, and any adjudicator, can only decide on the oral and written evidence presented.
The documents retrieved under Freedom of Information (emails, government form letters, RTB decisions) provide a glimpse of the struggle everyday people experience with secondhand smoke. I characterized previous standardized, form letters as dismissive. I classify these new form letters as informative.
In the meantime, the Quebec Tobacco Trials continue to be intriguing, chipping away at the notion that Big Tobacco is too big to fail. Fabulous.
In the US, Big Tobacco R J Reynolds loses to Eileen Clinton, with an award payout of $1.34 million. Eileen Clinton sued R J Reynolds on behalf of her deceased husband, to make good on his bequest. Robert Gavin reports in the TimesUnion.com that the verdict against R J Reynolds is thought to be the first federal jury verdict in favor of a former smoker.
Verified: Secondhand Smoke Is Not Simply An Issue Between Neighbours