A Right to Clean Air

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Non-smokers’ rights advocates in Prince Edward Island are currently pushing for more smoke-free apartment buildings in the province. I agree whole-heartedly with their agenda and truly hope their actions will influence landlords and building owners in Halifax. As a non-smoker living in an apartment building in Halifax that allows smoking indoors, I am constantly breathing in the cigarette smoke of my neighbours and am seriously concerned about how it is impacting my health. I frequently experience burning eyes and sinuses as well as a raw, sore throat and occasional bouts of coughing. This only occurs when I am at home with cigarette smoke flowing into my apartment from every direction. This is my home. It does not seem fair for me, a non-smoker, to have to breathe in second-hand smoke in my own living space. In addition to the health concerns, it frustrates me that my clothing, bedding, towels, etc always reek of smoke and it embarrasses me when company comes over and despite every effort to eliminate the smell (scented candles, Febreeze, Glade Plug-ins, you name it!), the air in my apartment is always stale and smoky.

We know the dangers of smoking and particularly, the dangers of second-hand smoke. That’s why people are no longer allowed to smoke in public places or even within certain distances of public places. So why am I being protected from the harms of second-hand smoke when I’m at a bar, for example, but not when I’m in my own home?

Now, before the smokers on here start bashing me, let me just say that I understand both sides of the issue. If you are a smoker, I am not trying to discriminate against you. That is not my intention at all. You also have rights in your own home. I understand what a pain in the butt it would be to have policies that would force you to have to leave the comfort and warmth of your own apartment to go outside and brave the elements every time you need a cigarette. I also understand how frustrating it would be for you if there were laws that said you could only live in certain buildings that allow smoking.

I just strongly feel that there needs to be more living options in this city for non-smokers. We need more apartment buildings that have a firm stance on being smoke-free. We have plenty of buildings that cater to the smokers. But what about the non-smokers?

We have a right to live comfortably in our own homes. We have a right to clean air. We have a right to good health. Agreed? —Black Lung

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