Health Topics

Smoke in Your Home

Hamilton residents are protected from second-hand smoke in most workplaces and public places, yet many are exposed to this dangerous smoke in their own homes.  

Often people don’t think about smoke where they live until they have signed a lease and smoke is coming into their home.  You should ask questions about smoking policies when you are looking for a place to live.

Whenever you call or visit a property to rent or buy, ask about smoking.

1. Find out if a smoking policy is written in the lease or community rules. A new law in Ontario makes it mandatory for Ontario landlords to use a Standard Lease, which discloses the smoking status in leased units.

  • Ask if it applies to everyone or just new tenants.
  • Ask if the policy covers indoor common areas, rental units and any places outside including decks, balconies and patios. Make sure this is clearly outlined in the Standard Lease.

2. Ask if there are any tenants who currently smoke inside or outside, and where they are smoking.           

  • If they are smoking in the building, and there is a shared ventilation system, it is likely that second-hand smoke will get into your unit.
  • If they smoke outside near your windows or doors, smoke could get inside your unit.

3. Ask about enforcement.

  • Does the landlord check to make sure nobody is smoking?
  • How would the landlord respond if you made a complaint about a smoking neighbour?
  • If a tenant or their guest is smoking, what would the landlord do about it?

4. Are signs posted to make visitors aware of the no-smoking policy?

5. Did the previous tenant smoke? If so, what did the landlord do to clean the apartment?

  • The residual odours and contamination from second-hand smoke can be hard to get rid of if cleaning is not done properly.

What you can do about smoke in your home

You can:

  • Write a letter to your landlord.
  • Try to block the smoke from coming in by sealing up gaps and cracks.  Ask the landlord to check the ventilation system.
  • Talk to your doctor if you have health concerns about breathing in smoke. 
  • Keep track of when the smoke comes in your home, where it comes in, how it affects you and what you do to fix the problem.
  • Ask your landlord to make your building smoke-free.
  • Talk with other people in the building to see if they want a smoke-free building. 

Smoke-free areas in shared housing

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking of tobacco and cannabis and the use of electronic cigarettes in common areas of apartment buildings, condominiums and college and university residences.  Common areas where smoking and vaping is not allowed include:

  • Elevators
  • Stairwells
  • Hallways
  • Parking garages
  • Laundry facilities
  • Lobbies
  • Exercise facilities
  • Party or entertainment rooms

Tobacco enforcement officers inspect these spaces and can issue tickets for non-compliance with the law.

Report smoking and vaping in common areas of shared housing

If you have questions about the law or you want to report smoking (cannabis or tobacco) or vaping in common areas in shared housing: