Smoking and gated communities in India have never gone hand in hand, and according to STATISTA , there are around 14.8% smokers in the country.
From this 14.8%, there can be no denial that a substantial number of smokers are living in gated communities and the management can not ban them from smoking in their own house – which is their private space. And in the eyes of the smokers, banning it would be an utter sin and we really needn’t have to do that.
On the other hand, the management cannot give smokers free rein to smoke anywhere, anytime. After all, children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people also live in gated communities, and passive smoking can damage their health too which they never asked for.
So, in this case, what should the management do? In this article, we share some steps that the association can implement to meet the needs of all the residents keeping in mind the welfare of the others.
Implementing Smoking Regulations
The more we try to ban smoking, the more stubborn people will want to continue doing it. Therefore, regulating smoking in gated communities is a prudent thing to do.
Below, we bring a handful of steps the management can take to regulate smoking that will encourage coexistence amongst smokers and other residents.
– Prohibit smoking in common areas (anyway this is an offence according to the law). If you catch someone smoking, fine them heavily.
– Provide smokers with a designated area and see how their faces lit up! Build a ‘smoking room/area’ probably on the terrace or top floor of the building as smoke wafting down the building is negligible.
– Even though ventilation and air sealing in apartments can minimise the smoke, they are not of much help when smoke wafts via windows and doors. To deal with this, request residents who smoke to install smoke filters that have proper smoke ratings. These filters will prevent the smoke from wafting or recirculating other areas.
– Support can be the strongest bridge between smokers and non-smokers. Every community will have a handful of smokers who are attempting to quit smoking for good. Encourage them by having a reward system. Offer gifts to people who have gone without smoking for at least a week as an appreciation. You can even conduct programmes related to the ill-effects of smoking to create awareness and encourage the ‘quit-smoking movement’.
– Residents complaining of smoke entering their flat is a very common scenario in gated communities. As a first step, request them politely to close the windows, use air fresheners and install smoke filters. If they ignore your requests, go to the association and make a formal complaint and let the management deal with it. Even then if the problem isn’t resolved, consider legal action.
– Importantly, speak to children about the ill effects of smoking and why they shouldn’t smoke when they become older . Smoking isn’t hard to miss especially by the curious eyes. Educate them about the health hazards of active and passive smoking. This will encourage them to stay away from the smoking zone.
Studies have shown that passive smoking can cause respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and can even develop cancer. When expecting mums are exposed to tobacco smoke, the infants are likely to develop birth defects including respiratory illness, congenital abnormalities, may weigh less during birth, and in worse cases, there is an increased chance of stillbirth too.
Convey the health hazards of passive smoking to smokers and how they are putting others in danger too. Additionally, communicate about the severity of COVID 19 complications amongst smokers. This will propel them to at least consider quitting smoking.
The best approach towards smoking in gated communities is regulation, education, empathy, and awareness. With the right tools in hand, you can certainly make ‘smoking problems’ in your community a thing of the past.