No smoking in social housing

Since the Smoke-free Places Act came into effect, there are few places left for Yukon smokers to enjoy a cigarette. If you're renting, you might not even be able to smoke at home.

Since the Smoke-free Places Act came into effect, there are few places left for Yukon smokers to enjoy a cigarette.

If you’re renting, you might not even be able to smoke at home.

The Yukon Housing Corporation is following the trend.

All of its social housing units will be smoke-free by January 1, 2012.

There are three main reasons for the change, according to Shona Mostyn, the corporation’s acting director of housing operations.

Smoking causes health risks, increased maintenance costs and fire risks.

By now we all know that second-hand smoke is dangerous for children, but seniors are also particularly at risk.

The majority of complaints that Yukon Housing receives relating to smoking come from seniors who live next door to smokers.

And after a smoker has been living in a unit, it usually requires a more thorough cleaning, maybe a fresh coat of paint.

The smoke gets into the carpet and into the walls. There are also frequently burns in carpets and countertops, said Mostyn.

“We need to be spending our money on real repairs, rather than cleaning up nicotine damage.”

Then there’s the risk of fire.

In 2009, Yukon Housing lost a unit to fire damage.

The fire report found that the ignition point was in a couch and was likely caused by smoking.

“And when you’re talking about multi-unit dwellings, the risk of fire is not just for an individual unit, but for everyone living in the building,” said Mostyn.

Yukon Housing notified all of its tenants on May 13.

Responses have been mixed.

“There are some people who are unhappy with it, and we expected that,” said Mostyn.

“The people who smoke in their unit obviously want to continue to do so, but we really have to look at the cost factor, the health factor and the risk factor.”

The new policy has been in the works for a while now, but comes at a critical time for Yukon Housing.

Thanks in part to Canada’s Economic Action Plan, Yukon Housing has more than a hundred new social housing units opening up this year.

“This is an opportunity for us to get these buildings healthy and off on the right foot and keep costs down from the get-go,” said Mostyn.

The policy is effective immediately for all new tenants moving into any Yukon Housing unit.

Current tenants have a grace period until the end of the year, to get used to smoking outside.

“We’re not going to turn people away or evict them from social housing because they smoke,” said Mostyn.

“If we do evict them, it will be because they violated the smoking policy.”

Contact Chris Oke at

Just Posted

Whether the dust jacket of this historical novel is the Canadian version (left) or the American (right), the readable content within is the same. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: New novel a gripping account of the gold rush

Stampede: Gold Fever and Disaster in the Klondike is an ‘enjoyable and readable’ account of history

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your furnace and your truck need to go

Perhaps the biggest commitment in the NDP deal with the Liberals was boosting the Yukon’s climate target


Wyatt’s World for May 14, 2021.… Continue reading

Copies of the revised 2021-22 budget documents tabled in the legislature on May 14. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Liberals introduce new budget with universal dental and safe supply funding

The new items were added to secure the support of the NDP.

Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters on May 13. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Cap on rent increases will take effect May 15

The rollout of the policy is creating ‘chaos,’ says opposition

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Family pleased youth will be able to get Pfizer vaccine

Angela Drainville, mother of two, is anxious for a rollout plan to come forward

Safe at home office in Whitehorse on May 10, 2021. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Federal government provides $1.6 million for Yukon anti-homelessness work

Projects including five mobile homes for small communities received funding.

Drilling at Northern Tiger’s 3Ace gold project in 2011. Randi Newton argues that mining in the territory can be reshaped. (Yukon government/file)
Editorial: There’s momentum for mining reform

CPAWS’ Randi Newton argues that the territory’s mining legislations need a substantial overhaul

At its May 10 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the subdivision for the Kwanlin Dün First Nation’s business park planned in Marwell. (Submitted)
KDFN business park subdivision approved

Will mean more commercial industrial land available in Whitehorse

Main Street in Whitehorse on May 4. Whitehorse city council has passed the first two readings of a bylaw to allow pop-up patios in city parking spaces. Third reading will come forward later in May. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Whitehorse council pursuing restaurant patio possibilities

Council passes first two readings for new patio bylaw

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Most Read