Smoke-free strata?

CANCER COUNCIL WA and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health have joined forces to help the growing number of apartment dwellers living next door to heavy smokers.

Following the Herald’s recent story about an ex-nurse driven out of her Palmyra house by the chainsmoker next door (“Smoked out,” Herald, April 21, 2018), ACOSH got in contact to say they’ve just developed a guide to help strata residents to introduce non-smoking by-laws.

“We get lots of calls about it and this issue is going to be more and more important as the government introduces its planning policies, which is really about high density living around transport nodes,” says ACOSH president Maurice Swanson.

• ACOSH project officer Lucy Scott and president Maurice Swanson offer hope for non-smokers in strata complexes. Photo by Steve Grant

Full bans hard

Mr Swanson said the guide gave a run-down on the dangers of secondhand smoke and potential solutions for people in strata complexes, from simply knocking on a neighbour’s door and asking them to butt out, to imposing a full smoking ban.

Full bans through a schedule 1 bylaw are difficult to achieve because they require the approval of all owners, but less complete bylaws can leave set areas free for smokers and be gradually implemented.

Landgate is currently reforming WA’s strata laws, but an appeal from ACOSH to take its lead and introduce a ready-to-go, non-smoking bylaw has fallen on deaf ears.

“[Planning minister] Rita Saffioti and her parliamentary secretary John Carey through Landgate said they have so much on their plate they are not going to include this standard bylaw,” Mr Swanson said. He says given Landgate could have lifted much of what was needed from ACOSH’s guide, he’s not buying that as an excuse.

He also criticised the state’s housing authority for dragging its feet on smoking reform. He says while in Opposition housing minister Peter Tinley seemed keen to tackle the issue, but since coming to power had been “seduced” by the department’s bureaucrats who say it’s too hard and will be unfair on the state’s less fortunate.

Minister “seduced”

“We have a case of a grandmother who is looking after her granddaughter and has a smoker living next door. She’s really worried about the health impact on her granddaughter,” Mr Swanson said.

ACOSH was formed in 1976 and Mr Swanson has been involved since joining the board in 1982.

“ACOSH has led all the main legal reforms on tobacco control, including higher taxes, plain packaging, money for mass media campaigns, both locally and nationally.”

He says one of his highlights came with the victory of former Alfred Cove independent MP Janet Woollard, who had a background in health having been a cardio nurse and married to a heart surgeon. Holding the balance of power in parliament, she came to ACOSH and asked what more needed to be done to tackle smoking.

That led to WA introducing the country’s first non-smoking alfresco laws, which are now applied across the country (except in the Northern Territory where you can still light up in the outdoor eating area of your favourite pub—that state’s on track to win ACOSH’s inaugural Stinky Ashtray award unless it lifts its game).

For a copy of the non-smoking strata guide, get in contact with ACOSH at 6365 5436 or http://www.acosh.org

by STEVE GRANT

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