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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read