Ontario majority wants smoke-free apartments



    Neighbours' smoke penetrates into almost half of Ontario apartments
    Ontario health coalition kick-starts dialogue in fastest growing housing
    market

    TORONTO, March 27 /CNW/ - New research shows second-hand smoke
infiltrates the apartments of almost two million Ontarians, and a clear
majority of the province's four million multi-unit dwellers would like the
choice to live in smoke-free buildings.
    The Ontario Tobacco-free Network (OTN), a coalition of the Canadian
Cancer Society, Ontario Division; the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario;
and The Lung Association discovered this demand for smoke-free living after
commissioning two major studies by the leading market research firm Ipsos
Reid.
    "It's the first hard data on how people feel about second-hand smoke in
multi-unit dwellings," says Irene Gallagher, speaking for the OTN. "This is a
big issue, since more than one in three Ontarians live in multi-unit
dwellings, and the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation says it's the fastest
growing segment of the housing market."
    Ipsos Reid senior vice-president John Wright says smart businesses can
exploit this untapped demand. "This is real market data, verified by studying
a large sample two times over a six month period," says Wright, a consumer
trends expert. "It's a good way to differentiate your housing product.
Landlords elsewhere who've tried it say it's good for business."
    While researching second-hand smoke, medically proven as a serious health
risk at any level of exposure, the OTN discovered that landlords in Ontario
are just beginning to hear that housing marketers in other jurisdictions are
relying on the market's invisible hand to cut through bureaucratic red tape
and confusion about smoke-free buildings. One of the biggest landlords in
Western Canada, Globe General Agencies, has people lining up on waiting lists
for the smoke-free buildings it began offering last fall in Manitoba, with no
significant problems.
    "This is just all part of providing a safe and healthy environment for
our tenants," said Globe General president Richard Morantz. "Many businesses,
like bars, restaurants, and hotels, have found that no-smoking rules are good
for business. Doing the same for multi-unit dwellings is just part of that
trend." In Vancouver, a new condominium project being marketed as smoke-free
is meeting with "fabulous demand," says Annette Denk of Sussex Realty, the
agent selling units in the building.
    This new trend of voluntary, market-driven smoke-free housing is growing
in progressive jurisdictions like Michigan. More than 6,000 apartment units
have gone smoke-free and landlords reported no downside, according to Jim
Bergman, of the Smoke-free Environments Law Project in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
    "Building managers have been pleasantly surprised at how well it's
going," says Michigan's Bergman. "In our experience with hundreds of
landlords, getting cooperation from residents with voluntary smoke-free
policies has been excellent. There have been no problems and certainly no
evictions. When it's a matter of free choice people play by the rules. If they
sign an agreement saying they'll follow a smoke-free policy, they do."
    Landlords in Michigan, like Globe General in Winnipeg, are phasing in the
no-smoking policy. New residents agree in writing to abide by the non-smoking
rule; as well, in some buildings the existing residents agree that all smoking
will end by an agreed date. This allows the change to be lead by social and
market forces, rather than government regulation. "Neighbours tend to know
when others are being un-neighbourly and not following the agreed rules," says
Globe General president Richard Morantz.
    In releasing this data today, the OTN hopes to further a dialogue among
Ontario residents, landlords and condo and building owners about the
opportunities and choices to make homes healthier with voluntary,
market-driven no-smoking policies.
    Last week a two-day symposium on the subject was held in Toronto, with
attendees from across Canada and from the US, including landlords, building
operators and health groups. For more information, contact the OTN at
1-800-972-2636 and at http://www.theotn.org.

    About The OTN

    The Ontario Tobacco-free Network is a provincial interagency network
consisting of the Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division (CCS), the Heart
and Stroke Foundation of Ontario (HSFO) and The Lung Association (TLA). The
network is funded by the Ministry of Health Promotion and supported in-kind by
CCS, HSFO, TLA and the Ontario Campaign for Action on Tobacco (OCAT). The
members and partners of the OTN work together to reduce the harmful effects of
tobacco use. The OTN supports a network of local tobacco-free councils,
coordinated by public health staff and community volunteers, in their tobacco
control work throughout Ontario.

    About Ipsos Reid

    The Ipsos Reid Public Affairs division, with offices in Toronto, Ottawa,
Calgary and Vancouver is comprised of non-partisan, objective, survey-based
research veterans providing strategic research initiatives for a diverse
number of Canadian, American and international organizations.




For further information:

For further information: Charmain Emerson, Work: (416) 588-8514, Cell:
(416) 857-9401; Carol-Ann Granatstein, Work: (416) 588-8514, Cell: (416)
301-4042

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ONTARIO TOBACCO-FREE NETWORK

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