Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Ask RiotACT

Your convenient chemist with the biggest range of Beanie Boo’s in CBR

New multi-unit developments need designated smoking areas

By GM2617 - 11 June 2015 55

ask-riotact-default

Our predicament = offensive second hand smoke drifting through our unit

My partner and I are being forced to put up with daily smoke drift problems in the multi-unit development we live in. These problems have been occurring since January 2014 when the building became occupied for the first time. Our apartment has been impacted on a daily basis by second hand smoke drifting in from seven other apartments (five below us and two above us).

What are we seeking to do to help ourselves?  

We wish to determine how the Territory Plan can be influenced to include designated smoking areas (DSA) in new multi-unit developments. The cost to install a designated smoking area and smoke-free design features is least expensive during the design stage.  The cost would be reimbursed to the developer by increasing the price of every unit that is to be sold. The smoke-free features in the building design would be identified in the contracts for sale that each prospective buyer would be required to read and sign, which influences the new unit owners from day one.

We ultimately wish to find a way to influence the future developers of nearby blocks that are designated for future multi-unit developments, to offer at least a portion of the residential dwellings as a dedicated smoke-free environment so that we can gain the opportunity to purchase a unit off the plan in a building that will be managed as a smoke-free environment from the beginning. We would prefer to move into a nearby new building that is promoted up front as smoke-free, rather than have to endure the daily smoke drift problems we continue to experience where we currently live. An off the plan situation is best for us as we have some design changes we wish to incorporate to assist us to cope with some disabilities and prepare for living through our retirement years.

If changes could be implemented within the Territory Plan, the planning process would then be seen to be aligned with the direction that new legislation is heading to reduce the incidence of smoking within the community and decrease the subsequent cost of smoking upon the jurisdictions budget.

What is happening in the ACT already?

Due to the lack of foresight by the developer and builder of the apartment complex we live in, our owners corporation (OC) is left to deal with the smoke drift problem as no provision has been made in the design, or in the purchase contract, for a designated smoking area (DSA) designed into the building. The OC has established a smoke-free policy in our first set of House Rules to try and manage the situation but that was not able to be done until 6 months after the smoke drift problem started. The enforcement of the smoke drift rules is proving to be a very long and challenging process due to the lack of legislative support and uncooperative attitudes of smokers.

A letter we received from the Chief Minister in March 2015 indicates that the ACT Government is committed to finding solutions to manage smoke drift in multi-unit developments, and that ACT Health is expecting to conduct a public consultation this year concerning the smoke-free topic. We intend to make a submission to any future public consultation to raise the following issues for consideration:

  • The majority of the community are non-smokers so multi-unit building design should cater for the needs of the majority rather than allow the minority of smokers to dictate undue influence over design decisions;
  • A unit balcony can certainly be classified as an enclosed eating area given five of the six sides are usually covered and families enjoy entertaining and eating a meal together on their balconies.  Current legislation requires a four-metre distance between outdoor enclosed eating areas and designated outdoor smoking areas, and a ten-metre distance between a smoker and a children’s playground.
  • Balconies in multi-unit developments are located too close together to prevent smoke drift causing a nuisance to adjoining residents or to children playing on balconies.  Up to three levels of balconies can be located within 10 metres of each other, and smoke will drift up and down the sides of a building, so a child playing on a balcony could be exposed to smoke drift from up to four balconies as the ten-metre distance would extend to balconies located two levels above or below their own balcony.
  • Current Building Code of Australia (BCA) and energy efficiency ratings aim to reduce heat loss and increase energy efficiency; however, condensation is a known result of compliance with these energy efficiency requirements of BCA. Builders recommend that residents in units keep doors and windows open regularly to provide natural ventilation to remove humidity and reduce the incidence of condensation; however, this is not possible when there is a constant threat of secondhand smoke drifting into your unit.
  • Current balcony design approaches prevents non-smoking residents being alerted to impending smoke drift issues before the smoke drift infiltrates throughout their apartment, so a solution needs to be emphasised in the Territory Plan to incentivise developers to want to deliver buildings that cater for the majority of non-smokers in our community.

In conclusion…While we wait for the ACT Health consultation on smoke-free issues to be publicised later this year, we felt it would be useful to raise the issues here to see what other members of the ACT Community feel about this matter.  We have created a few webpages on the internet to capture the facts about our situation so that it is easier to share these issues with others – see https://sites.google.com/site/livingsmokefreeinact/.

What’s Your opinion?


Please login to post your comments, or connect with
55 Responses to
New multi-unit developments need designated smoking areas
Filter
Showing only Website comments
Order
Newest to Oldest
Oldest to Newst
GM2617 4:48 pm 06 Mar 17

ACT Government showing distinct LACK OF INTEREST to assist the community deal with smoke drift issues in high rise buildings.
==================
I raised a representation against the new development on Emu Bank Belconnen (?BLOCK: 37; SECTION: 52; DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION NUMBER: 201629800) suggesting that a Designated Smoking Area (DSA) should be designed into new high rise buildings so that the future body corporate (BC) gained a purpose built facility to deal with the smoke drift problem that the BC would need to deal with once residents began occupying a new building. The Developer had already indicated to me at a Belconnen Community Council meeting that they had not considered a DSA design issue.

The response I saw printed in the approved development application indicates to me that the government is UNWILLING TO PROACTIVELY ADDRESS SECOND HAND SMOKE DRIFT ISSUES IN HIGH RISE BUILDINGS on behalf of the community, by mandating that Designated Smoking Areas are designed into any new residential building with appropriate weather and ventilation requirements that consider the needs of both resident smokers and non-smokers. The ACT government response was: “Smoke drift is a matter for future body corporate to manage. It is not a requirement of the Territory Plan”

How else can change happen in strata domains if the government and peak bodies and Developers are UNWILLING to take the lead.

Anyone that has served on a Body Corporate Executive Committee will know that a brand new body corporate only gets elected months after residents move in and will have their hands tied by the default house rules that get implemented by the Developers ahead of settlement activities. These default rules are typically extracted from the Unit Titles Management Act in the ACT and currently fail to include any smoke free policies and government is NOT INTERESTED in refining them to address a major issue for the majority of members of the community who are non-smokers.

The best outcome future residents of high rise developments could hope for is that:
(i) the default house rules in the Unit Titles Management Act be modified to include a smoke free policy statement ;and
(ii) the Developers of new buildings include a purpose built Designated Smoking Area in the building design that is handed over to the body corporate to assist them manage smoke drift issues.

Example smoke free policy house rules can be found at the Cancer Council website: https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/16083_CC_CAN1035_AchievingSmokeFreeAptLiving_Sheet5_WEB.pdf

GM2617 8:27 am 26 Sep 15

No_Nose said :

…how the internet (and RiotAct) works

RiotAct certainly promotes the right intent No_Nose … thoughtful and positive contributions certainly demonstrate a willingness to consider matters from different points of view…

No_Nose 5:06 pm 19 Sep 15

GM2617 said :

Let’s keep on topic people – please stick with POSITIVE / HELPFUL contributions about how to get DSA’s into multi-unit developments.

You really don’t know how the internet (and RiotAct) works do you!!

GM2617 4:42 pm 19 Sep 15

Let’s keep on topic people – please stick with POSITIVE / HELPFUL contributions about how to get DSA’s into multi-unit developments.

If you want to comment on any other topics (like some have on obesity, diabetes, cyclists, trams etc) then please start a new topic elsewhere on TheRIOTACT website.

My thoughts about DSA related issues raised in Posts #27 – #51 are:

maya123 – Post #27: there are a number of apartment buildings in Canberra that are trying to deal with the smoke drift issue. Apartment blocks will be “smoking buildings” as you label it because the default strata rules have to be adopted when the building first starts to be occupied, and these do not currently address the smoke drift issue. The ACT Government’s Unit Titles [Management] Act 2011 needs to be updated to address the second hand smoke (SHS) issue in apartment blocks to the same level of rigour that government is addressing community concerns about SHS in other places where lots of community members congregate.

Grimm – Post#28 & #46: I agree Developers are totally influenced by any opportunity that will make them money for the least possible cost outlay. I actually think there are no statistics available yet on what demand exists for smoke free buildings. I have not seen this type of question in any government census yet, nor have I ever seen a Developer putting out surveys to the community. All we get from Developers currently is very little choice and if you take the time to understand the choice, you will see that it is often inadequately designed for the purpose, plagued by defects within a couple of years. People in your circles might not care, but I do, and I want to see some change because I am being aggravated by the SHS issue every day, so I am trying to do something about it that offers a compromise to all parties involved.

Postalgeek – Post#34 & #41: I agree that only “some” smokers (not all) are causing SHS problems in apartment buildings. I would like all residents in multi-story buildings to be more vocal to the few remaining uncooperative smokers, to get the change that the majority want.

Grimm – Post#35: the issue about internal combustion engines is not being ignored at all…it is just not relevant to multiple apartments located in close proximity. The problems caused by SHS smoke drift is analogous to the situation where a neighbour in an apartment building causes carbon monoxide and carcinogens to drift into someone else’s apartment if they run an internal combustion engine on their balcony.

Gizmo1 – Post#36 / wildturkeycanoe – Post#48: what’s next you ask…I reckon it is doing just enough to allow everyone to live harmoniously together in the multi-unit environment. Why is that too much to ask? Why should people living in apartment buildings be forced to put up with inconsiderate, rude or ignorant behaviour (or smoke drift)? We have rules in every other part of society to stomp on unacceptable behaviour. Causing a nuisance to someone else = unacceptable in my book.

Were you aware that many people actually choose to live in strata communities because these type of communities have rules that guide residents on how to behave to enable people to live more harmoniously in the medium density building block environment? Some strata communities offer many benefits (gyms, pool, closeness to shops, entertainment, transport hubs etc) that you rarely get in the outer suburbs where there are no rules. More people want this lifestyle choice nowadays to simplify their lives, gain a bit more security and stay closer to parts of the city they enjoy frequenting. I want people who choose to live in a strata community to realise that the strata rules are in pace to help them enjoy their living experience so I want them to use whatever rules are available to change the behaviour of anyone who wants to cause a nuisance (just like the road rules are in place to make sure we all drive more safely on the roads)

HenryBG – Post#37: your generalisations about smells, sounds and smoke ignores the fact that these issues are all nuisance related and if you live in a house in a suburb, you probably do have to put up with them as you would have no strata rules to help you deal with the person causing the nuisance. Living in a multi-unit development, which always has strata rules, provides residents with the power to stop the nuisance. The Owners Corporation has the power to create new rules and enforce the rules that the majority of Owners want to have in place.

Rubaiyat – Post#38 & #45: I agree – It has taken the force of law to get smokers to stop causing SHS drifting across restaurants and children’s playgrounds and fumigating the inside of cars with small children in them. If a driver gets caught breaking a road rule they can expect to receive an infringement notice and pay a penalty. We have similar infringement legislation for strata rules and Owners Corporations now need to realise that the current community expectations about preventing smoke drift should be included in strata rules.

ChrisinTurner – Post #42: thanks for that snippet. My Body Corporate adopted a smoke free policy rule similar to what is suggested by the NSW Cancer Council in this publication (search on internet for this title): Achieving smoke-free apartment living

Conan Of Cooma – Post#43: your experience with temporary accommodation highlights that there is still not enough people who are prepared to making sufficient noise about this smoke drift issue to make government and developers listen and actually make the changes that the majority want…I am being more vocal to try and make a change because I DO NOT want to continuing living with the aggravation of smoke drift causing me a nuisance multiple times each day and when I am sleeping at night. Plus the other issues with apartments is that they need to be constantly ventilated to minimise the build up of mold from shower steam, clothes dryer moisture, and a room being closed up all the time. have a look at some of the research on the internet about second and third hand smoke residue.

wildturkeycanoe – Post#48: the legal approach seems to be the only reliable method that has proven to regularly change people’s inappropriate behaviour. How can we incentivise smokers to consider their neighbours? We can offer them use of a DSA and if they agree to follow the strata rules they will get no stress or aggravation from being forced to deal with Infringement Notices. That is a benefit I think. I also think that ex-Sydneysiders have decided to move into the country because they do not want to be near the hustle and bustle of the city. I feel that high density living offers more people the opportunity to live affordably in expensive places like Sydney – residents just need to learn how to behave more harmoniously in the high density environments.

maya123 – Post#49: exactly my sentiment – the majority of non-smokers should be able to expect developers and government to offer better choice and build some apartments (or parts of a block) that are exclusively offering a non-smoking environment. I for one would move there.

…and I will ignore the other ‘less than helpful’ commentary

Maya123 10:26 am 19 Sep 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya123 said :

It would be nice if at least some apartments were non-smoking options, for the 86-88% of non-smokers.

Since when has “majority rules” decided anything in this country? By the same logic, the tram idea should be mothballed.

“By the same logic, the tram idea should be mothballed”

The opposition is certainly the most fanatical and loudest anyway!

wildturkeycanoe 10:02 pm 18 Sep 15

Maya123 said :

It would be nice if at least some apartments were non-smoking options, for the 86-88% of non-smokers.

Since when has “majority rules” decided anything in this country? By the same logic, the tram idea should be mothballed.

Maya123 11:11 am 18 Sep 15

wildturkeycanoe said :

If anyone in an apartment block can get smokers to not smoke there, what will be next? What about other odours like Indian food, boiled cabbage, that stinky Asian fish/ noodles meal, even incense candles? I believe that anyone crazy enough to live in a unit development should just realize that whatever the neighbors do they will just have to put up with or move elsewhere.
We live in a suburban house and put up with smells that come from kilometers away or next door. Nobody can stop odours from drifting wherever the wind blows, it is part of life. The government makes us all breathe unhealthy smoke when doing annual hazard reduction burns. Do we, or can we stop it? Probably not. Likewise for the pollen and stink of plants in springtime, all we can do is barricade ourselves indoors till summer kills them off.
I am not a smoker but the lengths of legal intervention and paper work some people are going to in order to get some fresh air is ridiculous. Just move. Buy a house elsewhere, like ex-Sydneysiders have done when going out into the country.

It’s expensive to move. Some people might find the expense not easily in their means. It would be nice if a choice were offered. At present (best of my knowledge) there are no no-smoking apartments available. To cater for the 12-14% of people who smoke, all apartments are smoking. It would be nice if at least some apartments were non-smoking options, for the 86-88% of non-smokers.

wildturkeycanoe 10:51 am 18 Sep 15

If anyone in an apartment block can get smokers to not smoke there, what will be next? What about other odours like Indian food, boiled cabbage, that stinky Asian fish/ noodles meal, even incense candles? I believe that anyone crazy enough to live in a unit development should just realize that whatever the neighbors do they will just have to put up with or move elsewhere.
We live in a suburban house and put up with smells that come from kilometers away or next door. Nobody can stop odours from drifting wherever the wind blows, it is part of life. The government makes us all breathe unhealthy smoke when doing annual hazard reduction burns. Do we, or can we stop it? Probably not. Likewise for the pollen and stink of plants in springtime, all we can do is barricade ourselves indoors till summer kills them off.
I am not a smoker but the lengths of legal intervention and paper work some people are going to in order to get some fresh air is ridiculous. Just move. Buy a house elsewhere, like ex-Sydneysiders have done when going out into the country.

Maya123 9:42 am 18 Sep 15

Grimm said :

Between the ridiculous assertions that people with mental health issues make up the majority of smokers so can’t afford to buy real estate, and the blatantly obviously nonsensical stories, this is quite clearly becoming an anti-smoking Nazi love in.

At least keep it realistic. If there was enough request and interest in completely smoking free apartment complexes, developers would jump on the idea and be advertising the hell out of it. I’ll assert yet again that more people don’t care and have far more important things to worry about than the smell of smoke from time to time.

This is an USA link, but I would speculate it is similar here. I found other similar links too.
http://psychcentral.com/news/2015/08/10/smoking-rates-still-high-among-mentally-ill/90642.html
“one-third of current adult smokers suffer from some type of mental illness, and so far, anti-smoking efforts have not seemed to affect this particular population”

Grimm 9:07 am 18 Sep 15

Between the ridiculous assertions that people with mental health issues make up the majority of smokers so can’t afford to buy real estate, and the blatantly obviously nonsensical stories, this is quite clearly becoming an anti-smoking Nazi love in.

At least keep it realistic. If there was enough request and interest in completely smoking free apartment complexes, developers would jump on the idea and be advertising the hell out of it. I’ll assert yet again that more people don’t care and have far more important things to worry about than the smell of smoke from time to time.

rubaiyat 4:56 pm 17 Sep 15

Postalgeek said :

rubaiyat said :

Because in my very, very long experience of asking politely, there is no “some”, it has had no effect on the driving addiction of smokers.

What do you mean by this? Do you mean that you’ve politely asked smokers to give up their addiction, or to just refrain from smoking around you? If the latter, and if we’re submitting empirical evidence, then I’ve had smokers stop smoking when I’ve asked them to. So there are “some”, in my very, very long experience.
Personally I find smoking an unpleasant habit, and some smokers are inconsiderate assholes. But there are smokers who take lengths to be as discreet. Are you asserting there has never been one smoker who has ever shown restraint, or consideration when asked to? Hyperbole does nothing for an argument.

Yeah I’ve had them explain how I’m over there and they’re over here, with some suggestion that there is an invisible smoke proof barrier between us.

Or hiding it behind their back, or cupped in their hand constitutes “Not Smoking”. Even when they are sitting right opposite me underneath a No Smoking sign.

Happened in innumerable small railway compartments, shared houses, and for years in a Public Service office which supposedly had a no smoking policy (totally unenforced). Asking for them to smoke outside gets you a reputation as some kind of crazy healthy nut/killjoy, to be rightly ignored.

When one of the smokers thought it’d be funny to hide one of the other smoker’s pack of fags up on the beam right above his head I was shirt fronted by the victim of the joke, frantic for his nicotine hit.

Apparently “Only non-smokers would be that anti-social”.

Smokers like to pretend now that non-smoking is actually enforced that they are actually being courteous when they choose to comply. When given half the chance they go back to totally ignoring all the signs and all the unhappy people around them. Don’t give me that malarcky about “Good smokers”.

rubaiyat 4:23 pm 17 Sep 15

Maya123 said :

Some of these comments remind me of something I overheard. A man said he would never go out with a smoker ever again, not because of their ashtray breath (his words), but because they always put their cigarettes before him.
Many years ago I had a job that took me to weddings. I soon came to realise that weddings were split down the line between smoking and non smoking weddings; often quite dramatically. At some weddings lots of people smoked (this was many years ago when more people smoked), while at others, virtually no-one. It dawned on me from those experiences that socially smokers tend to mix with smokers and non-smokers with other non-smokers, likely warping both groups perspective on the smoking issue. However, as overwhelmingly, from statistics, most people don’t smoke, it is more likely it is smokers, socially mixing with other smokers, who have the most distorted view of the smoking situation. This distortion might also be colouring some pro smoking comments.

You’ve reminded me of Elizabeth this hot girl I met at a party when I was at uni.

We were going gangbusters until we kissed. Thought I’d accidentally got my tongue caught in a pile of discarded dero durries.

I never rang, I never called.

Conan of Cooma 3:49 pm 17 Sep 15

It’s an issue with the type of building you have chosen to live in. If I stay at a hotel with balconies I know not to leave the windows open, as smokers on adjoining balconies will fill the room with smoke. If I stay in a holiday house I know it’s not an issue, as the large residence has enough distance from other residences. I might be using temporary accommodation as a guide, but as you have chosen to live in an environment that encourages close proximity to your neighbours then there are certain things you have to put up with.

That said I quit smoking a few years ago and can’t stand second hand smoke, even on the street, but if I want to go out I have to respect the laws that provide other people the opportunity to do so.

ChrisinTurner 3:46 pm 17 Sep 15

Our Body Corporate changed their house rules to outlaw anyone allowing smoke to escape from their premises to where it can affect others. We followed NSW rule precedents and our rules are registered. The result has been satisfactory. Smokers can probably only smoke in their bathroom where the air is exhausted to the rooftop. The rule is:

13. TOBACCO SMOKE
Residents, guests and visitors must not allow their tobacco smoke to enter any other unit. This will usually preclude smoking in the stairwells, unit courtyards and on unit verandas, particularly when the weather is warm enough for the other residents to have their windows open.

Postalgeek 3:06 pm 17 Sep 15

rubaiyat said :

Because in my very, very long experience of asking politely, there is no “some”, it has had no effect on the driving addiction of smokers.

What do you mean by this? Do you mean that you’ve politely asked smokers to give up their addiction, or to just refrain from smoking around you? If the latter, and if we’re submitting empirical evidence, then I’ve had smokers stop smoking when I’ve asked them to. So there are “some”, in my very, very long experience.
Personally I find smoking an unpleasant habit, and some smokers are inconsiderate assholes. But there are smokers who take lengths to be as discreet. Are you asserting there has never been one smoker who has ever shown restraint, or consideration when asked to? Hyperbole does nothing for an argument.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2018 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site