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McGuinty won't ban smoking in apartments Add to ...

The Ontario government used Weedless Wednesday to encourage more people to butt out, but Premier Dalton McGuinty said he won't ban smoking in apartment buildings.

"I think when you get into people's homes, you're crossing a line," said Mr. McGuinty.

"It's pretty intrusive for us to go in there and start to determine what activities are appropriate and what are inappropriate."

The Liberals have been pretty aggressive in banning smoking in cars with children, or pretty much any public place where it would impact the health of others, Mr. McGuinty added.

Some apartment dwellers complain they suffer second-hand smoke from neighbouring units, but Mr. McGuinty said that's a line he's not comfortable crossing.

"There's still something important about the principle that a person's home is her castle."

At an unrelated event Wednesday, the government announced that participating family health teams will provide smokers with nicotine patches and gum, as well as addictions counselling, for free starting in the spring.

Such services are already available in many community health centres, hospitals and pharmacies.

The province has created 200 family health teams since 2005. The teams are made up of a variety of health-care professionals, including doctors, nurses, dietitians, social workers and pharmacists.

Expanding the service to those units - at a cost of $2 million - will help up to 20,000 more Ontario residents quit smoking over the next two years, said Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best.

"We are working hard to get the message out that using nicotine is not a lifestyle choice, it is an addiction," says Ms. Best.

"In fact, it is one of the toughest addictions to break."

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and premature death in Ontario, said Ms. Best, with tobacco-related disease killing roughly 13,000 Ontario residents every year.

The province says it spends $1.93 billion each year to cover tobacco-related health care problems.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health will be working with the government on the initiative.

Peter Selby, the centre's addictions program director, says combining nicotine replacement therapy such as patches or gum with counselling doubles a smoker's chance of successfully quitting.

Canada has observed National Non-Smoking Week for more than three decades, and Weedless Wednesday has been a focal point of the annual January event.

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