Instilling a Fervent Wish for Smoke-free Housing - Part XXXXI
With the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day, the phrase, 'groundhog day' became an axiom for existing in a temporal loop, repeating thought and behavior with poor outcomes, until something or someone's awareness knocks it off its trajectory and transforms it.
Someone has knocked the temporal loop off its same old, same old, trajectory, at least at Kiwanis Park Place.
Secondhand smoke drift from tobacco and marijuana, and grandfathered smokers has taken a wee hit, at least at Kiwanis Park Place.
On January 10, 2012, after almost a year of becoming fed up with marijuana smoke increasing in the hallways and into her apartment, a tenant wrote a letter reporting the matter to management and the board. Eight tenants signed the letter.
I wasn't part of this Group of Eight, but I had reported the problem of marijuana to management, to the RCMP, and the City of Surrey. In fact, the RCMP advised that I report it to the City of Surrey.
One morning in mid-December, 2011, I woke up feeling as if I was suffocating. I soon realized I was encased in marijuana. I moved out of the bedroom to find other areas of the apartment contaminated with marijuana. I called management, saying you have to come here to smell the marijuana. I have long struggled with tobacco secondhand smoke, but marijuana is a more recent vintage in my area, beginning September 2011. Not surprising, management denied smelling it, despite another person being present and smelling it.
Perhaps management couldn't smell it, as it had dissipated some. Maybe her sense of smell was hindered by the amount of perfume she wore, which I made mention of. Curious though. In the spring of 2011, another tenant came to me with her track pants in a plastic bag, smelling of marijuana. She had been hot boxed the night before, and wanted me to smell them. She took them over to the office for management to smell them. The admin assistant smelled them, and yes, that was marijuana. Another staff member smelled them, too. Yep, that was marijuana. When staff passed the bag along to the General Manager, she took the plastic bag and threw it on the desk, and said, “And what do you want me to do about it.” (Oh, my word, that was yelling, and throwing) The tenant took her bagged pants and left to go to the RCMP to report it. She still has the bag and her marijuana smelling track pants.
One can only speculate at the combination of persuasive elements that promoted letters to all tenants, and rejuvenated the smoke-free housing policy that existed as little more than window dressing. One can only muse on the three and a half years it took, and the amount of money spent avoiding, resisting, stonewalling against this. One can only offer conjecture on the finances expended in the issuing of the recent letters to all tenants. The people involved don't make $10 an hour. One can only hypothesize that the matter had reached critical mass for external sources to apply pressure.
On January 13, 2012 Crescent Housing Society issued a letter to all tenants stating that
“Over the past number of months there have been many complaints regarding the smell of illegal drugs in the building. I would remind tenants that any illegal activity in the suite is considered a breach of the tenancy agreement and could result in a Notice to End Tenancy.”
“Crescent Housing Society has hired Canadian K9 Detection Security & Investigations Ltd. To conduct regular and random narcotic checks of the buildings. Any reports of drugs will be investigated thoroughly, which may include a search of individual apartments where drugs use is suspected.”
January 26th, 2012, Crescent Housing Society issued another letter to all tenants, citing Surrey's Public Health Smoking Protection By-law, 2008, No 16694.
“Smoking is prohibited on balconies and patios assigned exclusively to a dwelling or sleeping unit if the area is within seven and one-half meters measured on the ground from a point directly below any point of opening into any building, including windows and air intakes.”
“It has come to our attention that the private patios adjoining suites at Kiwanis Park Place are within seven and one-half meters of points of opening into the building.”
“Effective February 15, 2012, and in accordance with Surrey Public Health Smoking Protection By-law, 2008 No 16694, smoking on private patios and on the common rooftop patio to Kiwanis Park Place is prohibited.”
Post February 15, 2012, we'll wait to see if the new temporal loop holds, and how much it might snap back.
While these announcements at Kiwanis Park Place created a fissure allowing for a reprieve from oxygen deprived air, for some here it means the problem has moved to their area, and not been resolved. That would mean the temporal loop hasn't truly shifted, only moved.
The overall picture for smoke-free housing, especially in non-profits, remains a faint hope. For many, Groundhog Day remains fixed, largely as a consequence of integrating dual and triple diagnosed (addiction and mental illness) tenants with non-profit housed seniors.
Contact with decision-making personnel (boards/landlords) remains challenging, so accurate intel on the various factors around secondhand smoke remains low.
Of those responding, landlords continue to respond with the rhetoric that they don't receive complaints, but then complaint records are not kept. Landlords continue with a belief that there is no unmet demand.
Enforcement remains impossible without legislation, and this belief continues to prevent boards from giving smoke-free policies due diligence. Furthermore, landlords express disillusionment with the RTB dispute resolution decisions, and with the fact that all smoking tenants might have to do is come with a letter supporting undue hardship because of their addiction or mental illness, and the landlord's efforts become moot. Resistance from smoking tenants and the added management administration work from this accounts for additional rationale for not giving smoke-free policies attention.
The belief that present smoking tenants need to be grandfathered in, without fully understanding that Section 32 on health hazards, and Section 28 on quiet enjoyment mitigates grandfathering hinders implementing smoke-free policies, as does a poor understanding of the obligations that a landlord has around this issue. For those smokers who genuinely want to quit, if there isn't a supportive environment making it easier, then secondhand smoke will hamper their own efforts.
The issues of secondhand smoke drift remain a Gordian Knot, and history informs us that a Gordian Knot takes a sword slicing it through. That's what legislation amounts to: the sword slicing through the secondhand smoke dilemma.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy is a necessary condition, but insufficient if time-limited, stand alone, brief therapy.
Befuddling, isn't it all!
See Groundhog 2012
See Groundhog 2012