Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SHS, multi-unit dwellings & anti-smoker deceit

I'm retired. But, for the last sixteen years I've been involved with a volunteer board of directors charged with the administrative and financial oversight of the housing co-op in which I live. For 13 years of those years, I've been president of the board. No big deal.

I go into the office two or three times a week to see if there's anything which requires my attention or the attention of the board. Sometimes I even go into the boardroom to check my mail. Important stuff, from our auditors, the government, etc. comes directly to my home. So, mostly what finds its way into my mail slot is flyers and newsletters from an assortment of housing organizations and salespeople.

Like the flyer announcing the “2010 Winter Education Event” sponsored by CHFT (The Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto). The front page invited members to “Join us for an exciting and informative day of workshops and networking opportunities.”

The flyer listed a number of workshops on such issues as: Dealing with Conflict, Financial Checklist for Boards, Preventing Fraud, etc. Through the years I'd attended similar workshops on most of the topics and I saw no need for a refresher on any of them. But, there was one that looked interesting. It was called “Smoke-Free Buildings”. Uh-huh.

According to the flyer, the workshop was to include information on the health effects of secondhand smoke, relevant Ontario legislation, how to adopt a non-smoking policy, etc. The facilitator was not named, merely identified as someone from the Non-Smokers Rights Association. Registration for the one-day event was only $75.00 for two workshops of your choice (plus lunch). I decided to attend.

Damn.I really should check my office mail on a more frequent basis. I'd missed the registration date. I missed a perfect opportunity to learn first-hand how this anti-smoker organization cons people into believing that “many [non-smokers] are unwillingly exposed [to secondhand smoke] in their own homes.”

It would be interesting to know how many is “many”? And, to just how much secondhand smoke are the “many” exposed? Can secondhand smoke really penetrate solid walls? Go through standing water? Travel against the wind? Do they really expect to prove that there is “no safe level” of exposure to secondhand smoke in a court of law?

The anti-smoker element would have the public believe that secondhand smoke is a major health hazard in multi-unit dwellings; that non-smokers are dropping like flies after being subjected to a whiff of secondhand smoke from smoking neighbours. They would have the public believe that there is a huge public outcry against smoking in multi-unit buildings.

And, they rely on the irrational fears of some non-smokers to perpetuate the myth. Fear generated by their own anti-smoker campaigns of deceit and deception. They offer no evidence that secondhand smoke represents a serious health hazard in MUDS (Multi-Unit Dwellings). They ignore any and all potential solutions except smoking bans.

So, just how great is the demand for smoke-free housing?

A survey commissioned by Health Canada in 2007, and conducted by Decima Research, notes that “When it comes to smoke actually seeping or drifting into personal living spaces, almost two-thirds (64%) indicate they have never experienced this, and 15% say it rarely happens. Residents of condos are the most likely to say they never experience seeping or drifting smoke (85%).” Residents of basement apartments are most likely to experience smoke seeping into their unit (12%).

That's right. Four in five residents of MURBS (multiple unit residential buildings) have rarely or never experienced smoke drifting or seeping into their unit.

Of course, nobody wants to live in a building where people are allowed to smoke in their unit. Right?

Well, no! According to the Decima survey, “Only about one in twenty indicate they’d prefer to live in a building that did not allow smoking in any residential units (6%); in some residential units (6%); or in outdoor common areas (5%.) Finally, a fraction of respondents (roughly 2%) said they’d prefer to live in a building where smoking is not allowed on balconies or patios.”

In fact, “Almost three quarters of Canadians agree that people who smoke tobacco products should have the right to do so in their own home. Close to one half (44%) of Canadians indicate they completely agree that smokers have the right to smoke in their own home, and a further 30% mostly agree.”

It appears the Non-Smokers Rights Association is not responding to a problem; they are actively engaged in creating a problem, or more appropriately, creating the perception of a problem.

And, they're being ably assisted by Health Canada in their propaganda activities.

A brief article on the CAGE (Canadians Against Government Encroachment) website notes that the Non-Smokers Rights Association recently received $656,666.00 in funding from Health Canada for, among other things, “hosting smoke-free multi-unit dwellings (MUDS) workshops and consultations with housing providers and tenants; developing a Quebec specific smoke-free MUDS website; researching municipal by-laws and provincial legislation on second-hand smoke; and, developing fact sheets for outreach with the public.”

So, Health Canada is actually using taxpayer dollars (including my tax dollars) to support a campaign of discrimination against 20% (including me) of Canada's population.

$656,666.00 in public funding. With little or no public accountability.

Note: For other articles on this issue, see:
Secondhand smoke goes thru walls
Secondhand smoke and MUDS


Anonymous said...

My dad died FEB 1 2010 and has smoked for 50 yrs i have papers that say he died from tabacco usage and my mom also has suffered a triple by pass and has 60% usage of her lungs and has an inhaler now due to smoking so i have over 50 documents that tell me tobacco companies need to give me some money from the pain they have caused my family..
Please help..
Larry Greene
1415 center st
Grand Saline Tx 75140

The Old Rambler said...


First, let me offer my sincere condolences on the death of your father. The loss of a loved one, whatever the cause, is a difficult life experience with which to deal.

I really don't mean to be insensitive to your situation, but I would have to question any papers which claim the cause of death was “tobacco usage”. Death certificates usually identify the cause of death according to ICD (International Classification of Disease) number. Contributory risk factors may also be included, but it is difficult, if not impossible to declare that any specific risk factor caused the disease on an individual basis.

Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD), for example, includes ICD numbers I20-I25. It is considered a smoking related disease. But, according to Health Canada, of the 40,007 deaths from IHD (2002 figures), only 5,343 (13%) were attributed to smoking. The remainder, roughly 35,000 were due to other risk factors.

When we lose a loved one, it's natural to look for someone or something to blame. But, it wasn't the tobacco companies which caused the pain to you or your family; it was the death of your father. I can say with a measure of certainty that the pain would be no less if he had died in a car accident, a boating accident or simply old age.

Personally, I have found that the best way to deal with the death of a loved one (including both parents) was not to dwell on their death, but rather to focus on their life; the lessons they taught me, the good times we shared. But, everyone has to deal with death in their own way.

Perhaps grief counseling or a talk with your pastor might help you come to grips with your loss. You have my sympathy and best wishes.