Community Papers

Anti-smoking champ lauded for work

South Surrey resident Rose Marie Borutski has been honoured for her work in the fight for smoke-free housing.  - File photo
South Surrey resident Rose Marie Borutski has been honoured for her work in the fight for smoke-free housing.
— image credit: File photo

A South Surrey woman is being celebrated this week as an “anti-tobacco champion,” for her efforts toward affordable smoke-free housing.

Rose Marie Borutski is one of 10 individuals and organizations in B.C. being recognized by the BC Lung Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation (B.C. & Yukon) with a 2013 Champion for Tobacco-Free Living Award.

The inaugural awards mark National Non-Smoking Week, Jan. 20-26.

Borutski was among residents of Kiwanis Park Place who lodged a human-rights complaint alleging discrimination based on physical disability due to second-hand smoke in subsidized suites at the 12850 26 Ave. facility.

The issue went to a settlement meeting in August 2010, with the results bound by a gag order.

In early 2012, she learned she would receive a monthly “private market rent subsidy.” It enabled her to find and rent a smoke-free unit at an unsubsidized complex.

“Rose Marie’s first-hand experience battling the negative health effects caused by second-hand smoke in shared housing is stirring up important public discussion and debate on an issue in desperate need of attention and action,” Scott McDonald, chief executive officer of the BC Lung Association, said in a statement announcing the awards.

Diego Marchese, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, said B.C. needs more people like Borutski, “whose unyielding efforts to wake up decision-makers on housing-related tobacco use issues is long overdue.”

Approximately 85 per cent of British Columbians are non-smokers, and the province has more than 725,000 residential strata lots. Only a few have outlawed smoking.

While grateful for the subsidy she now receives, Borutski is continuing the fight on behalf of others unable to afford their way out of similar situations.

“Receiving the market rent subsidy only confirms there continues to be a real shortage of smoke-free, social housing available to others like me who live on limited incomes,” she said.

“It’s encouraging to be acknowledged and I’m thankful for the rent subsidy. I’m happy Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing, has at long last acknowledged second-hand smoke as a legal source of nuisance, which threatens tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment and thus requires landlords to act when a complaint is filed.”

Borutski shares what she has learned through a blog, Canadians PUSH for Smoke-Free Housing (

For more information on Champion award recipients, visit




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