There is a renewed push to make all apartment buildings on P.E.I. smoke-free.

The legislature's health and wellness committee recommended in December that the government consider including multi-unit dwellings within the Smoke-free Places Act.

This would mean smoking inside and outside apartments across the Island would be banned.

The committee also suggested the government begin with a smoking ban at the apartment buildings it already owns.

Smoking

Some buildings are already smoke-free on P.E.I. (CBC News)

According to the committee's report, the province is one of the largest landlords, with multi-unit dwellings that are home to thousands of seniors and low-income families.

In a statement to the CBC related to smoking in social housing, the Department of Family and Human Services said some of the social housing buildings are already smoke-free.

 The department said it offers some smoking permitted units for those who have been unable to quit, but would follow the legislation if changes were made. Health PEI did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Smoke travels

Smoke-Free P.E.I. made a presentation to the committee about banning smoking in apartments and presented to the Liberal caucus last week. The group said if just one resident smokes, that can affect other people. If the province were to introduce legislation banning smoking in multi-unit buildings, it would be the first in the nation to do so.

Frank Morrison

Frank Morison, from Smoke-Free PEI, says the organization supports making all public buildings smoke free. (Randy McAndrews/CBC)

"What we are working on is protecting people from second-hand smoke, so we are not necessarily telling what they can't do, but we are asking them not to do and protecting people from second-hand smoke," said Frank Morrison, a member of Smoke-Free P.E.I.

He adds he also wants government to provide more support for smoking cessation programs.

Government housing first?

PC MLA Sidney MacEwen, opposition health critic, said with municipalities moving to further restrict smoking, it may only be a matter of time before restrictions on multi-unit dwellings come into effect.

Smoke free sign

Smoke-Free PEI would like to make it easier for people to quit as well as banning smoking in public areas. (CBC News)

"The government should probably lead by example in government-run facilities," he said. "Is there a way that you could put smokers in one certain place? It's about rights of the people that aren't smoking as well in these facilities."

Private buildings go smoke free

Pauline Sherren Grant, building manager for Harley Street Apartments in Charlottetown, said their senior apartment buildings have been designated smoke-free, including the patios and the parking lot, since before the first tenant moved in.

Each resident must agree to refrain from smoking as part of their lease agreement. Grant said they created the policy based on their past experience managing other buildings with smokers where smoke travelled throughout the building — even if people were smoking outside.

Pauline Sherren Grant

Pauline Sherren Grant, a building manager for Harley Street Apartments, says their buildings have been smoke-free since the first tenant moved in without any problems. (Randy McAndrews/CBC)

"You can't live comfortably without smoke if there's anyone smoking in the building, so the only way to do it is to have it completely smoke-free," she said.

It would be "wonderful" for all apartment buildings in the province to become smoke-free, she said.

Smoke Free PEI is asking for all levels of government to take a co-ordinated approach to smoking restrictions.

With files from Kerry Campbell