WA’s anti-smoking lobbyists look for ban on smoking at home

Health lobbyists are seeking a smoking ban in medium density housing. File image. Photo: Belinda PrattenSmoking in an apartment, unit, villa or townhouse could be outlawed in WA if health advocates get their way.
Nanjing Night Net

A number of peak bodies have united in a submission to government as it considers reform of the strata titles act.

Cancer Council WA, the Australian Council on Smoking and Health and the Heart Foundation believe the act, as it stands, fails to address smoking and second-hand smoke in environments that are shared by many people.

Chief Executive of the Heart Foundation Maurice Swanson said most complaints were received from members of the public who lived in medium density housing.

“We believe our submission – if accepted – will make it easer where the majority of residents want to live smoke-free,” he said.

The health bodies had submitted six key recommendations for consideration to Landgate which is responsible for drafting amendments.

“We believe smoke drift entering any part of a neighbouring property may be regarded as a nuisance and a hazard,” Mr Swanson said.

“The recommendation also called for a ban of tobacco smoking on all common property – both inside and outside.”

Mr Swanson said smoking on or in balconies and courtyards could also be banned where smoking causes a nuisance or hazard or otherwise interferes unreasonably with another resident.

“We’re asking that landlords be required to give tenants a copy of the by-laws and details of any smoking policies,” he said.

“We’ve also put forward that the State Administrative Tribunal be called on to monitor and report on the number of disputes it adjudicates each year on smoking in strata titled properties.”

Quit Victoria director Dr Sarah White earlier told Radio 6PR’s Gary Adshead she felt a move to smoke-free strata title living was inevitable.

“We’re increasingly living in higher densely apartment and unit complexes and what you used to do in the sanctity of your own home can now affect people around you,” she said.

“It used to be issues like noise levels and dogs – now people are saying they have smoke drift coming into their apartments and they don’t like it.”

Dr White said some people considered smoking inside an apartment worse, because some buildings had shared infrastructure like pipes and ventilation points.

“Others don’t like people smoking on balconies where smoke drifts through open windows,” she said.

“But the bigger issue of a ban is really pitting the rights of a smoker against those of a non-smoker. There’s never a clear winner.

“We’re only at the issues consideration stage of a proposed new law, but we would be looking at giving the owner corporation [the body corporate] the tools to manage a situation.

“When we’re living in these densely packed areas we have to modify what we do because we have to live in a close community.”

Around 12 per cent of Western Australians aged over 16 years are daily smokers but some 1500 deaths a year are attributed to tobacco.​

A spokeswoman for Landgate said it had released the Strata Titles Act Reform Consultation Paper in October 2014 for comment.

“The issue of smoke drift was raised by some stakeholders, but feedback on banning smoking within strata and survey-strata schemes was mixed,” she said.

“Some people wanted to ban smoking within the common property.  Others called for the banning of smoking where the smoke caused a nuisance to other owners. There was no consensus on the issue.”

After the reforms have passed, if a scheme does have a by-law banning smoking, the strata company will be able to apply to the State Administrative Tribunal for an order imposing a penalty for any breach.  Follow WAtoday on Twitter

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