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  • Samantha Reece

Smoking ban on balconies sets precedent

Australia’s leading advocacy group for apartment owners and residents says the recent decision effectively banning smoking on balconies of residential apartment buildings in Queensland casts a question mark over other states.

Smokers and non-smokers have clashed heatedly over the years over the right for smokers to use apartment balconies.

Australian Apartment Advocacy (AAA) is a not-for-profit organisation which represents 2.5million Australians who own or live in apartments and units.

AAA head, Samantha Reece, says the issue of hazardous smoke drift in dense residential buildings, which has long been one of the most common complaints in strata communities, needs to be swiftly addressed by other State Governments.

Ms Reece says, “The ban is considered the biggest change to strata laws in Queensland in a decade and it has far-reaching implications for the hundreds of thousands of strata communities nationally.”

The Queensland decision effectively means that tobacco smoke drift from the balcony of one lot into a neighbouring lot is a hazard in contravention of section 167 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld).

In reaching their decision, the BCCM Adjudicator cited Queensland and Federal Government health information which reports that second-hand tobacco smoke is harmful and there is no safe level of exposure to it.

“Thankfully, due to this landmark decision, the onus is no longer on individual lot owners or residents to provide sufficient evidence of the volume and frequency of smoke drift that would constitute a nuisance.

“The serious health implications of second-hand tobacco smoke have already been substantiated by health authorities and therefore, it is now easier for strata communities to enact by-laws on the issue.

“Importantly, the Adjudicator’s decision wasn’t limited to cigarette smoke, but referenced ‘tobacco products’, meaning that any review of the decision by other State Governments should also consider vaping and electronic cigarettes.”

Ms Reece is asking State Governments, to closely study the decision in Queensland and determine what it means for smokers and non-smokers in strata communities in their State.

“At the end of the day, this is a health issue for the State and Federal Governments to consider.

“I personally do not think there is any doubt that the majority of apartment residents and owners want balconies to be smoke free areas.”

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