Local Smoke-Free Housing Success


Smoke-free multi-unit dwelling success story – CMHA housing at 207 Ross Street, St. Thomas

This build opened for use in January 2017 and houses 12 clients from CMHACMHA made the decision to make their building smoke-free by implementing a smoke-free policy before the first tenants moved in.  Southwestern Public Health connected with Bob Dhillon, CMHA Housing Case Manager, who had a lot of involvement with the build going smoke-free. 

Q & A with Bob Dhillon - Housing Case Manager CMHA

Bob Dhillon

Bob Dhillion -Case Manager @ CMHA

 Q1: How are things going with your smoke-free build?  (Are clients happy? Staff? Has it been widely accepted?)  

A1: The smoke-free building has been a success so far. Clients that do smoke have usually followed through with the request that they smoke in a designated area only. Residents take responsibility for their own building and are encouraged to make their guests aware of the policy as well.

Q2: Why was the decision made to go smoke-free?

A2: The decision to go smoke-free was based on positive feedback gathered from other community agencies that had made this decision. Specifically, Eastwood Housing, a local social housing provider, reported success in implementing a similar policy in their buildings with positive client outcomes. We wished to start this new building off on the right foot and help our clients better their health at the same time.

Q3: Can you explain the process of going smoke-free?

A3: First, we consulted with other housing providers that have had success in implementing similar policies. Next, we connected with the local public health unit for resources including literature on the benefits for landlords and tenants, lease language recommendations, smoking cessation program info, and stickers to put up throughout the building. This information was then shared with the property owner and CMHA management who were in agreement that as a mental health agency providing supportive housing, this was a good decision. Upon move-in, this info was shared with tenants to ensure everyone was aware of the policy and supports were made available. Enforcement is based on a complaint basis although our organization has staff members attending the building throughout the week to provide outreach and support to tenants, as needed.

Q4: Would you say it was easy to go smoke-free? 

A4: The decision to go smoke-free was made easy due to the numerous health benefits and the cost-savings associated with it. It was made easier by the fact that units were made smoke-free up-front so that expectations were clear to all parties. The rules are applied fairly for all tenants so there are no surprises.

Q5: Do you find that going smoke-free has saved you money in anyway yet, or do you see it saving money in the future? 

A5: We haven’t experienced a great deal of turnover yet as the building only opened in January 2017 but with the one unit we have turned over, the vacancy loss was shortened by at least 2-3 days and costs cut by 50% compared to a unit where there was smoking indoors. We expect long-term savings from this policy.

Dan and Helen, Current Tenants at 207 Ross St.

Dan and Helen current tenants at 207 Ross St.