The Thunder Bay District Health Unit is calling on multi-unit housing providers in the area to adopt smoke-free policies for their buildings.
In a news release issued in conjunction with the start of Fire Prevention Week, the TBDHU noted that, currently, one in four Ontarians resides in an apartment or condominium unit where they may involuntarily be exposed to second-hand smoke through shared walls, hallways or ventilation systems.
The statement said that with second-hand smoke containing more than 7,000 chemicals, exposure in multi-unit buildings affects the health of all tenants, especially infants, the elderly, and those with health conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
"Smoke-free policies create healthier indoor air and also help prevent residents, their families and pets from being put in unnecessary danger," said Dr. Janet DeMille, the district's medical officer of health.
Thunder Bay Fire Chief John Hay also pointed out in the statement that smoking indoors is one of the leading causes of residential fires in northwestern Ontario.
"Implementing a smoke-free policy will not only help reduce the risk of fire, but will also help landlords improve their bottom line," Hay said, since safer buildings can lead to cheaper insurance premiums.
Smoke-free properties are also less expensive, on average, to renovate and turn over to new tenants.
According to the news release, smoke-free policies for multi-unit housing are both legal and enforceable in Ontario.