Smoking ban should include apartment balconies, lawyer argues
B.C.'s new anti-smoking legislation banning smoking near doorways, open windows and other exposed areas should also apply to private apartment and condominium balconies, a Vancouver real estate lawyer is arguing.
The province's new smoking regulations apply to all common areas in buildings, normally defined as doorways, lobbies, hallways and elevators.
But lawyer Ron Usher believes apartment and condo balconies and patios are also limited common areas and therefore should be included in the smoking ban.
Officials with both the provincial government and the City of Vancouver dispute Usher's interpretation of the new law, but the lawyer insists it is implicit in the law.
"If they did not mean it to apply to patios and balconies, I think that should be said very explicitly," Usher told CBC Thursday
For Usher, the issue is second-hand smoke that drifts from one apartment into the windows and patios of others.
"Some neighbours have disabilities. Some neighbours have small children. Some neighbours just don't like the smell of it altogether. It's a nuisance," he said.
"I suspect we will see a flood of complaints from condo-strata owners [and] people who live in co-ops saying 'My neighbour's smoking. City, please come and do something about it'."
Which means it may be the courts that eventually decide just how the new rules apply to private balconies and patios.
Already, individual condo buildings have the right to ban smoking and fine offenders through their own bylaws.
And landlords can now ban smoking both inside apartments and outside on balconies for new tenants.
The new legislation, which took effect April 1, also outlawed restaurant smoking rooms and banned smoking near workplace doorways, open windows and bus shelters in B.C.
In some municipalities, including Vancouver, smoking is also banned on restaurant outdoor patios.