Hamilton considers smoking ban in public housing

74 posts / 0 new
Last post

Clearly, this is about using the health concerns of smoking to attack a certain class of people.   Usually, concerned citizens against smoking are using it as a more general outlet for their obsessive compulsive busybodyism.

But now we see it being used on a more defined group in our society.  Create social pariahs,  blame them for some our economic malaise.  And, hey, you know if there's a link between poverty and smoking, that it's just a matter of time before non smoking poor people take up the habit.

Smokers raus!

Of course, one could make the case that affluence leads to less incidence of smoking, and if you really were concerned about the health of the poor, you'd recommend making them affluent.

But that doesn't present as big an opportunity to fuck with people, which is what Fraser and his ilk are all about.



Yeah, who cares about the right of non-smokers to breathe clean air in their own homes, anyway? What a stupid idea -- and discriminates against smokers! Who were born that way!

While we're at it, why don't we repeal clean air workplace laws? Why should restaurant workers get clean air when social housing tenants don't? That would be unfair. Also, it means that poor people can't go to restaurants now.

Let's just go backwards on all our health legislation to make it "fair" for smokers - and, by extension, poor people. Smokers have had such a tough break in the last two hundred years. In fact, let's repeal car emissions laws, too. Why have clean-burning engines in the cities if social housing tenants can't have clean air in their own homes? Not much point. Might as well go back to coal-burning, too. All this talk about "clean air" is just a bunch of hokum, propagated by "busybodies" who have nothing better to do.

No, a policy can't be about protecting the rights of non-smokers, who now represent the majority, or about reducing insurance costs or about fire safety in a public building. It must be an attack against smokers. And poor people. Because poor people smoke. And poor non-smokers don't mind smoke in their apartments. Why? Probably because they're poor.



Show some bloody empathy. Lack of empathy creates the cracks.

Did either tommy_paine, or I, actually place the smokers' or non-smokers' rights above eithers? Certain structures, social dynamics, are in place and you can't only dictate to people who have fallen through the cracks.

Both of simply us cried, that the cracks need be fixed.  And not target based on class divisions.  If you don't want to accept my illustration.  Your choice. 



I didn't understand your illustration, and admit I just glanced over it after I saw the word "paternalism" because I don't believe that's the motivation behind public no-smoking policies. At all.

I do definitely see the inconvenience and severe pain in the ass that not being able to smoke in your own home poses. I think there should be a phase-in of the policy. I think there should be provided some kind of sheltered space, sunroom, well-separated common room, that is pleasant to sit in, where people can smoke. I also would be incensed if that policy were to try to extend to privately owned homes or backyards. But rental dwellings, I'm sorry - I see that the building owner, public or private, has a right to make that decision.


Jas, you do realize this has many implications even upon the housing options of a mentally-ill patient after being released.  Their autonomy having been restricted to a great degree prior - without going into whether the state has power over well-being, an entirely separate issue - and highly contentious.  They feel as they are being offered freedom and then find out that houses they are being sent to has, dogmatically, paternal views.  We are talking about people, who, often, have been disillusioned from life and the city wants to restrict one item they previously had, based upon discriminate views of who they can control?  And given our damn way of absolutism I don't want to project the possible interpretations when used in a paternalistic structure.  We have a hard time granting logical exceptions in society.

Here's an entirely related story, based upon this sort of paternalism.  My mother-in-law lives in a supported housing, because of the aforementioned issues she had earlier.  The tenent agreement is completely vague allowing for almost any reading, including ones that would contradict the provincial laws on the matter.  Could she fight the agreement, yes.  She's also on a five-year waiting list for other housing.  The implications are already quite ingrained even if the law would be on her side.  She fell through the cracks prior, do you think she would want to again?

Now, given that it's a supported housing option with a focus upon community-integration and upholding a sense of autonomy - that at moments is laughable.  And, sadly, I'm certain the intentions were beautiful; but the consequences were not.  There is a meal plan included with the program, and also full kitchens in the apartments, one would think given that there should be an opt out option for the meal plan then, logical - kitchen included.  The food being offered was of poor quality and causing health issues for her.  With a doctor's note she tried to opt out - they said she couldn't.  Stating that the meal plan was part of the program of community-involvement.  Now she contacted her social worker, a high-ranking social worker in CAMH, and he fought upon her behalf against the housing organization.  She won the right to opt out of the meal plan.  But, she still had to pay for it.  Now logic begs, if the meal plan is only, purely, for the individual's participation in the program than why, on earth, does she still have to pay?  Especially on an ODSP income.  Gross.

Now, not everyone, or probably even every housing-option is run this way.  I expect stories similar to this are rampant.  Paternalism leads way to this mentality.  I know what's better for you.  But given these things in our society are, generally, swept under the carpet and never properly addressed, I can't justify prohibiting a person from doing something legal that, could, further that feeling of being punished for having a disease or if the cracks in society hadn't of forced them into poverty.  I'm not saying someone in this situation *will* or *should* feel disillusioned.   I'm stating it's quite natural of the human-condition to reach that level and, given, I who am relatively secure have reached moments of disillusionment; I don't feel that I'm making an assumption of the emotional landscape or talking down.

Now this is a projection, and projections can be blatantly dangerous in combination with assumptions, but, in my heart, I can't imagine what a person who previously suffered from paranoia, and the thought likely always being in their mind of, am I still suffering?  Would do if they thought,  logically, the superintendent, guard, caretakers are now walking down the isles keeping an eye on them for something as petty as smoking and where the mind could possibly project that thought.  The mind is capable of infinite, simple.  Thoughts can be a thing of beauty or they can be torment.

Should we uphold autonomy as far as we do?  In an interconnected world its hard to state where autonomy starts and stops.  Philosophy and ethics, and even religions, have tried to define it.  I can't exactly pinpoint where my autonomy starts, stops, and, possibly, infringes upon anothers - I try.  I have no limitations upon my autonomy other than cultural, societal, and legal.  Where should we define another's?

These questions aren't as simple as the state is their landlord.  That view can only be reconciled with an absolutist view of separation of hierarchy.  It doesn't matter to me if the state is your landlord - the state is the state.  If you can't pass a law and then shake the hands of the person you imposed the law on.  Don't make the law.  There is obvious greater good cases that have merit; to me fixing the broken structures and focusing upon the cracks prior to any paternalistic laws being passed would stop many of these injustices.  Then the law wouldn't, necessarily, be punitive towards the people that fell through the cracks.

On a side note, striclty upon the issue of smoking.  Did my parents smoke?  Yes.  Did they expose me to second-hand smoke?  Yes.  Do I smoke?  Yes.  Quite, literally, a link.  Do I want to quit?  Yes.  Do I blame my parents for my smoking?  No.  Should I have begged of the state to have restricted their "right" to smoke in front of me?  I don't go that far.  I'd rather the state and society would have educated my parents not to have.  Revolutions start from the bottom and go up.  Liberation is from within.

And trust me, I am actually quite sympathetic to non-smokers given that I want to quit.  I just don't want a nanny state.


And, since I tried, directly, to avoid confrontantional language you still took afront to this.  Makes me wonder directly what your motives were.  Argue on the basis of humanism; not smoker and non-smoker.  Quitting any addiction is not easy. And given there is still many people in society whom look down upon poor people, as an expense, or as lower, or weaker.  Why ask only the people that fell through the cracks to take up your cause?

I will note, I just read your post as writing this, the reason I try to avoid emotional responses.  And instead, try, reasoned approaches.  And, I will leave my initial words because your original, in your last post, words begged of them; but will put forth my original argument again. My point is strictly autonomy, and it should not be a luxury only afforded to those that are wealthy enough.   You can argue it both ways, if you wish, I already was concillatory towards that.  My direct problem with that is that I expect given the empathy people living together who have fallen through cracks would have towards each other, the human instinct of not wanting to see a person forced out into the cold would be overwhelming.

If there is a correlation existing between economic class divisions and smoking, why not even address affluence?  This is the most appropriate time to address inequality because of the inherent disparities and the current recession.

And why the divisions between private property if it is their homes?  Problem with this is that this leads to people with enough wealth to afford such luxuries.  Property has uses, but need not be triumph out of fear of backlash.

EDIT - To explain this further, the motives may or may not be paternalist - but the consequences of how it will be implemented will be, and will be perceived as.


earthquakefish wrote:

 the human instinct of not wanting to see a person forced out into the cold

to smoke? Sorry, that image doesn't tug on any heart strings for me.

And you'll see in my post above that I would advocate for a smoking room or sheltered area inside the complex.

Anyway, I think what we're seeing is a shift in social focus away from smoking as some kind of private "right" toward it being a public health issue, which it is. Change is not always easy, but there are ways of going about it that can make the transition easier.


What does tug your heart strings?  Of course, you skimmed over the part where I went into a personal story because you simply reject that any implementation of this could be seen as being paternal. Yet are in this for the greater good.  At what part am I or her, or the next person not part of that collective? As it stands under her tenancy agreement she can't live with anyone else.  Do you see that as an infringement?  What if I mention there is a 5-year waiting period for other supportive-housing options, thus she can live with someone in five years.

I can't really define why I would want to live with someone other than it being a want.  How about a discussion on the intrinsic values of each possible want and come up with a threshold it must meet before it becomes permissable.  Then we can just tell them on the list of intrinsic values of wants that smoking is below the threshold.  I'm certain we can also have different lists for different classes.

Or we can be balanced.  Allow the individual to make the choice and let progress take its natural pace and let cultures evolve.






No, a policy can't be about protecting the rights of non-smokers,

Quite right, it isn't.  If it was, Fraser and Hamilton City Council would be considering a ban on smoking in all adjoined residences, regardless of class. And they'd also be talking about doing something about the toxic gasses from carpeting and furniture, if they were so concerned about health.

And a ban on candles, if fire safety is your thing.




I think there are ways to address the rights of smokers and non-smokers in public housing.  Someone else came up with a good idea - have smoking units and non-smoking units.  This doesn't have to be a death battle between smokers and non-smokers with either a blanket ban on smoking or forcing non-smokers to endure bad air.

BTW, as far as I know, unless things have changed, landlords are NOT allowed to designate units "non-smoking" in self-contained apartments - only if you are renting a room in someone's house are they allowed to say you can't smoke in the house.  So, landlords can demand all they want that you not smoke in their units, and you can say, "Oh yes, I won't smoke, I promise!" and sign your life away in the lease, but when you move in, if you want to have a smoke in your own unit, you're allowed.  You can't sign away your rights. 

As a non-smoker, I lived in a house that had three apartments in it, and the landlords demanded that people be non-smokers if they wanted to live there.  As a non-smoker, it didn't affect me.  But a smoker moved into the basement apartment, and yes, that affected the air in all three apartments.  And you know whose responsibility that was?  The landlord's - for not ensuring that the air system was adequate for having three self-contained apartments in one house.



Michelle wrote:

BTW, as far as I know, unless things have changed, landlords are NOT allowed to designate units "non-smoking" in self-contained apartments - only if you are renting a room in someone's house are they allowed to say you can't smoke in the house.  So, landlords can demand all they want that you not smoke in their units, and you can say, "Oh yes, I won't smoke, I promise!" and sign your life away in the lease, but when you move in, if you want to have a smoke in your own unit, you're allowed.  You can't sign away your rights. 

I'm not sure what you mean by this. Landlords are allowed (in Manitoba) to declare their buildings, ie; all units, as non-smoking and that will be enforced by Residential Tenancies, if it comes to that. Is there something specific that overrides that?

And Tommy, what adjoining units are you referring to? Are they part of the social housing complex? If so, I agree, they should be covered by the same policy. But maybe there's some design reason that they're not, ie; smoking won't affect any neighbours in those units. If they're not public housing, then of course the City of Hamilton has no jurisdiction over a privately owned building.

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

jas if they REALLY cared about public safety esp kids. Hmm you would see a lot more rehab programs for heroin n cracc cuz u know how many kids get shit stucc in their foot from those alone? what about alcohol. the air system is supposed to be setup so that it doesnt affect other units esp in townhouse complexes if it aint adequate the city of hamilton is supposed to make it like that not just so smokers can have a smoke but bcuz of air quality and fire safety. If it that reason this just a cheap way to draw attention away from that or as I forget the guy but unionist or sum1 else liked the speaker it was a jewish guy n he said whenever something has a class attached to it basically when poor use something a lot more it gets banned. Like gin used to be banned in Britain but not whiskey n his friend said in 99 within the next 20 tobacco will proyl be banned n i said this already in the thread but just look. Help ppl quit not do this to them. And yea it really is 5-10 years waiting. It fuccin 8 years if you wanna move to a dif unit in the same area like let's say in the rex. they could be down the street from each other.


I think the begging question, jas, is why do you respect that private property lines need be respected but not individual lives in tenancy. It still is theirs in some form - as the space they occupy.  The primary reason for this is that people who rent can't afford houses.  There are exceptions to that; I don't think you'll find any of them in social housing.

Jurisidiction over property doesn't count - the law is made for people.  Not property.  Thats why Ontario banned smoking from cars with children - as governments still do define what property is and property is not, completely, untouchable.

If this is purely about non-smokers being infringed upon by others' dirty habits, and subsequent health issues.  Yes these issues need be addressed.  But one also must assume in life there is risk.   And if this is purely about wanting smoking eliminated beg of the governments to futher fund and promote smoking cessation programs - help them.   Just don't ban it.

Prohibition didn't work.  And how do you enforce it?


Well, again, no one is banning smoking. This is not Prohibition. It is merely a move to consider smoke-free public housing. Actually, according to a different article, it's really only about considering smoke-free housing options.


Hamilton eyes ban on smoking in public housing

Last Updated: 27th November 2008, 2:24am

HAMILTON -- City health officials say they're meeting with public housing tenants about a plan to ban smoking in their homes.

Dr. Chris Mackie, associate medical officer of health, said yesterday that his department is consulting with tenants about several options -- including offering smoke-free buildings or grandfathering the move so it would only apply to new tenants -- instead of an outright ban



And to make it more succinct, if it is considered unpallatable to breach property by society.  Why should it not be considered unpallatable to breach tenants personal space by society?  The concept of property was in ways to protect that very space, and serve people.  Not divide them as the results have in many ways done.

I'm just asking you to make your argument consistent across class lines.  Even if the intention is not to target a certain class line.  The consequence of the ban is.

Ban it all ways.  Or not at all.  Personally, my ethical lines, states it's their space and the state should interfere as little as possible.  Especially with people who already have had their lives interferred with by society and state policies.


earthquakefish wrote:

 Why should it not be considered unpallatable to breach tenants personal space by society?

That's the whole idea.


Smoking in public housing places neighbours at risk

Someone at the Health department told me it’s a person’s right to smoke in his own home. What about my right to not have smoke in my home? I should not have to move out of my home because of someone else’s addiction.

Human rights complaint over smoking in public housing

The complainants allege discrimination based on physical disability due to being exposed to second-hand smoke in their subsidized residence, contrary to sections of the Human Rights Code.


Public housing kicks smoking habit

It costs about $3,000 to prepare a non-smoker's apartment for the next tenant, but a smoker's unit runs as high as $6,000 because of additional painting, cleaning and carpet repair, says Paul Franco, a housing manager in Rancho Mirage, Calif., which began a smoking ban in January.



When you are arguing along class lines, including the costs doesn't necessarily benefit your argument.




My argument, as stated above, is that no-smoking policies should be established in all multi-unit dwellings whether privately or publicly owned, unless they are constructed in a way that smoke cannot travel between units. Legislation should establish the right to breathe smoke-free air at all times in one's own home. And actually, that could even apply to detached privately owned dwellings, as protection for families where there may be disagreement about smoking in the house, where one member may be disregarding the rights and health of other family members.



And you ignore my other arguments, about the real factors inducing these complaints.  These factors are only unmoveable if we conceive of them as being unmovable.  My point prior is that it is human NOT to want to be viewed as an expense.  If you view yourself as an expense you are then implicitly expendable.

And legislation should be established that prevents poverty.  It hasn't been yet.


Michelle wrote:

landlords can demand all they want that you not smoke in their units, and you can say, "Oh yes, I won't smoke, I promise!" and sign your life away in the lease, but when you move in, if you want to have a smoke in your own unit, you're allowed.  You can't sign away your rights.

I'd still like to know what law, bylaw, or Charter clause it is in Ontario, or elsewhere, that would override and nullify the terms of a rental agreement or lease that one has signed on to. And would that override also apply to no-pet clauses or other stipulations in the lease? If not, why would it only apply to smoking? If someone could fill me in, would greatly appreciate.


I guess a more accurate question would be, which act or bylaw stipulates that landlords cannot enforce a no-smoking rule in their rental suites or properties? And is that unique to Ontario?


rural - Francesca wrote:

Hamilton considers smoking ban in public housing


John Fraser, a program director at the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation in Toronto, said because people with lower incomes are over-represented in the smoking population, imposing the ban could be construed as discrimination against low-income families.

"Social tenants don't have a choice to be there. They're living there because they don't have a lot of other options," he said.


I have no idea what to say to this.

These are people's homes.  If we are going to say we need to not let them smoke because there are children, then make it so for every home.

And lets ban potato chips from stores located near public housing too, as poor people eat chips, and don't forget we need to ban parents from these homes, because face it, poor parents are a bad influence on children.

While the law obviously affects poor people, I don't know that it is such a bad thing.
Presumably, these people are not intended to live in these homes permanently.
Therefore, it is reasonable to assume it will be passed on to someone else - when that happens the new tenant will want the building to be in decent condition. If there is no smoking inside, it will be in much better condition.

If we can pass laws to forbid people to smoke in the same house/cars as their children, we can pass laws so that people can not smoke in public housing. It is really not such a hardship to step outside for a smoke, and will probably do them, as well as their family some good.

Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

u dont realize that ppl will often live in the units for years and years the waiting times show that if you dont wanna take my word for it. It basically permantly generations can end up bein in the same unit or complex. How they gonna enforce this bylaw anyway lol do they really think ppl in the hood are gonna report ppl smokin? aint no point to it it a waste of resources.