Step 5: Enforcing your smoke-free policy

Engaging and communicating with your stakeholders regarding your smoke-free policy will go a long way in facilitating enforcement. Likely, your members will be the biggest advocates of your policy and will readily tell you when someone is not following the rules. Most people comply with smoke-free policies when they are clearly and effectively communicated. Still, you should be prepared and know ahead of time how you will respond to any problems.

How to handle violations

Your enforcement plan will likely depend on your residents and their behaviour, the extent of second-hand smoke exposure to other residents and the sanctions that you have written into your bylaws.

If there is evidence that a violation has occurred, follow the procedures as defined in your bylaws for addressing disputes. Whether or not it is stipulated in your bylaws, you may want to engage the member in question with a warning and information letter. Be sure to document the process and get confirmation in writing that the letter was received. If an agreement is reached, it can be helpful to put it in writing for future reference. Have the resident sign a copy of the dated letter from the board or property management corporation, confirming the discussion and the resident’s agreement to abide by the smoke-free policy.

If the smoking continues, and mediation processes do not remedy the situation, the Cooperatives Act provides the option of terminating a membership. Again, the process involved in terminating a membership will differ with each cooperative. The default procedures even differ slightly between continuing-housing cooperatives and home-ownership housing cooperatives. Consult your bylaws carefully before seeking termination as a final option.

Document all violations, and, if possible, get witnesses who would be able to testify to incidents of smoking by the resident if necessary. You will need to establish to the satisfaction of the court that the defendant contravened the bylaw.

Download a sample complaint flowchartcomplaint log and caution notice.

Issues while transitioning to smoke-free status

If your cooperative is converting to smoke-free status either through a phased-in approach or due to exempted residents, it will continue to be important to address complaints of second-hand smoke migrating in smoke-free units from spaces where smoking is still allowed. If applicable, clarify with staff that while exempted or phased-in residents may be allowed to smoke in their units, complaints of second-hand smoke must still be addressed and documented.

Have you started implementing a smoke-free policy?

We want to hear from you! Contact us to tell us about your experience consulting stakeholders and drafting, implementing and enforcing your cooperative's smoke-free policy.

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