Housing Trust to introduce smoke-free unit complex policy

A Wollongong-based community housing provider is phasing out smoking in its unit complexes, in a move that could upset some tenants.

The Housing Trust will start implementing the policy in the coming months, with a pilot program at its Central Gardens facility in Shellharbour.

Tenants – both smokers and non-smokers – have been invited to an information session at the Shellharbour facility on February 13 to discuss the change.

In a letter to tenants, the organisation states that “civil liberties are not being infringed upon with the introduction of this policy”.

The letter referenced a 1993 NSW Council for Civil Liberties policy which stated: “Smoking should  only be allowed where there is no possibility of passive smoking causing harm or discomfort to others”.

According to the Housing Trust letter: “Smoke can drift through window jams, air vents, ventilation systems, air conditioning units, elevator shafts, hallways, stairwells, cracks in walls, across balconies and through plumbing and electrical systems.

“Smoke that drifts into the units of others and throughout common areas constitutes a nuisance, in the same way that loud music, barking dogs and other toxic fumes may be considered a nuisance.”

Housing Trust ​CEO Michele Adair says the organisation is working with tenants to achieve a smoke-free environment. Photo: Adam McLean

Housing Trust ​CEO Michele Adair says the organisation is working with tenants to achieve a smoke-free environment. Photo: Adam McLean

Under the policy tenants, and their guests, would not be allowed to smoke in their units, or any common areas or adjoining grounds of their complex.

A breach of the policy would be considered as “ground for action” under the organisation’s anti-social behaviour policy according to the letter.

Tenants were also encouraged to report “any incident where tobacco smoke is migrating into their unit”.

Housing Trust CEO Michele Adair this week told the Mercury the decision was “in line with increased awareness of the community benefits of smoke-free housing”.

“The decision for the pilot program is based on NSW Cancer Council studies measuring the impact of smoke contaminants in common areas and the units of non-smoking residents caused by the drift effect of second-hand smoke,” she said.

“While many people in the community do not smoke, the Housing Trust is aware that people who do may find it difficult to quit or reduce their habit.”

Ms Adair said the organisation was working “hand-in-hand” with tenants to develop a plan for implementing the policy to minimise the impact on individuals. 

“It is our intention to provide all of our tenants with a healthy living environment,” she said.

“We are confident that by consulting directly with our tenants, allowing plenty of time for adjustment and seeking their ideas on how we can achieve a smoke-free environment together, we can improve general well-being and create a harmonious living space.”

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