A smoking ban on all Ottawa Community Housing property goes into effect on Sunday for new tenants. Current tenants can continue smoking on the property until they renew their leases — or move out.

Units in the newest OCH properties are already smoke-free, as well as hallways in the buildings, said chair of the board Marianne Wilkinson, who is also the city councillor for Kanata North.

"This is going to make it universal right across our properties — including outside," Wilkinson said.

The board voted in favour of the new policy last year in response to requests from some of its 32,000 tenants, Wilkinson said. 

"Most of our tenants, it turns out, are not smokers, and they were being bothered by second-hand smoke quite severely in some cases," Wilkinson said.

A recent survey found that more than 70 per cent of OCH tenants do not smoke, she said. The OCH has partnered with the Ottawa Board of Health to provide support for tenants who want to quit smoking.

Tenants with medical marijuana prescriptions are exempt from the ban. 

Now that the ban is in effect, staff will work with tenants to make sure the rule is being followed.

"We're not policing it by going around door-to-door or anything like that. It's policed on a complaint basis," Wilkinson said. "The OCH people will go and check it out and work with that tenant. We don't want to start off with a heavy hand —we want to make the policy work because it's better for everybody."

YOUR VOTE