Smoke Free Living

 

Allen County Smoke-Free Housing

The Creating Healthy Communities Project (CHCP) of Allen County Public Health is promoting smoke-free policies among Allen County housing facilities – federal, state, and local public and private housing.  The Allen County Smoke-Free Housing Project is geared towards tenants and landlords who want to make their housing units smoke free whether it is a single dwelling, duplex, six-building condominium complex, or multiple apartment complex.  The CHC Project is dedicated to improving the health of its residents through nutrition, physical activity, and reduced tobacco use.  This project will help achieve the CHC Project’s goals of reducing tobacco use and supporting tobacco-free living.

 

Secondhand tobacco smoke is a public health problem

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful, but many people do not realize that secondhand smoke can also be extremely harmful to the health of non-smokers as well.  Most exposure to secondhand smoke occurs in the home and workplace and can cause many long-lasting and debilitating illnesses or make breathing problems worse, especially in infants, children, and older persons.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Secondhand smoke – the smoke from the end of a burning cigarette, cigar, or pipe, or the smoke that has been breathed out by the person or people smoking it – contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer.  Secondhand smoke is in the highest class of carcinogens – things that cause cancer.

The U.S. Surgeon General has said there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and has said, “Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.” (2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke).

Children are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke toxins, since they breathe faster than adults, and weigh less. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections (bronchitis, pneumonia), ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma, and respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath).

Secondhand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.  Thousands of people in the U.S. suffer from conditions caused, or made worse, by secondhand smoke.  Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.  Adults exposed to secondhand smoke increase their risk of heart disease by 25-30%.  In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and/or lung cancer.  Secondhand smoke exposure causes an estimated 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among adult nonsmokers in the United States.

You can protect yourself, and your family, by lowering or removing secondhand smoke in your home – always step outside to smoke.

 

Secondhand smoke in apartment buildings

Secondhand smoke can invade from units where smoking occurs into common areas and other units where residents have adopted voluntary smoke-free home rules.  Smoke can come into these areas through air ducts, cracks in floors and walls, stairwells, hallways, elevator shafts, plumbing, electrical lines, and open windows, among other routes.   Ventilation systems do not always protect families from secondhand smoke.  Most air filtering systems are designed to remove the odors caused by secondhand smoke, not the toxic particles from tobacco smoke.  Research demonstrates that 65% of air can be exchanged between units and that smoke travels through tiny cracks and crevices, involuntarily exposing individuals in adjacent units.  Unfortunately, secondhand smoke doesn’t respect boundaries, seeping through light fixtures, wall electric outlets, ceiling crawl spaces, and doorways into all areas of a building with smokers. Therefore, the only way to truly protect your tenants and employees from the health risks of secondhand smoke is to prohibit smoking from all indoor spaces within a building or close to it.

 

It’s your right to live in a smoke-free environment

Know your rights under the law.  You have the legal right to a safe and livable apartment. If a lot of secondhand smoke is filling your apartment, you may be able to take legal action to force the landlord to take steps to cut down or remove secondhand smoke from the building.  On the other hand, legal action should be your last choice because of the cost and time it takes.

Once you know the facts, look for solutions. The easiest way to get rid of secondhand smoke from a multi-unit building is to get your landlord to create a smoke-free policy.  Just like not allowing pets, landlords can ban smoking at their properties, even in individual units.  It is both legal and easy to do, and will probably save the landlord money.  More and more landlords are making their properties completely 100% smoke free.

Under the Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act, any enclosed area where people work has to be smoke free.  If your building employs cleaning crews or other staff, those common areas where they work should be smoke free.  Smoking is not allowed in common areas of the building such as hallways, laundry rooms, or stairways.  To report suspected violations of the Act, call 1-866-559-OHIO (6446).  If you have questions about the law or for information on how to file a complaint, contact Allen County Public Health at 419-228-4457 to see if those areas of your building should be smoke free under the Ohio Smoke-Free Workplace Act.

While a smoke-free policy is your best protection, some landlords may not be willing to go smoke free.  In those cases, try to take steps to protect yourself and your family.  Try speaking with smokers in your building and explain that secondhand smoke is drifting into your apartment and that you are trying to find a good solution to stop it.  You can find more on how to talk to neighbors and your landlord on this website.

 

Want a smoke- free apartment building?  You’re not alone.

In Ohio, as in the nation, an increasing number of families have a smoke-free home rule.  Currently, 73.5% of Ohio homes have this rule.  However, statewide surveys reveal that Ohio citizens, including children and seniors, continue to be exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in their homes.  Thirty three percent of Ohio housing is renter occupied and 28% of Ohio housing stock is multi-unit housing (American Community Survey, 2008-2012).

It’s what renters prefer

Nationwide, 21% of the general population smokes, so it makes sense that a majority of tenants want to live in a smoke-free environment.  Children and people with asthma and other respiratory problems are especially at risk of serious illnesses caused by secondhand smoke; for them, smoke-free apartments are particularly important.   Most tenants want to live in a non-smoking building because they want to breathe smoke-free air in their apartments.  Providing smoke-free apartments will help attract tenants, because the demand for smoke-free housing is strong.   According to a recent survey conducted in the Midwest, nearly three quarters of renters would prefer to live in smoke-free apartments.

Surveys taken in other parts of the country show a similar preference for smoke-free apartments.  In Ohio, close to 75% of adults are nonsmokers, and among people 65 and older about 90% are nonsmokers; yet, currently, most renters complain that they cannot find smoke-free apartments to rent.  Non-smoking units are easy to fill because most tenants want to live in a non-smoking building.  Secondhand smoke complaints and requests for unit transfers drop following the implementation of a smoke-free policy.

 

Finding a Smoke-free Apartment

When searching for a new apartment, condominium, or rental house on the internet, you may be able to find out from the page if they have smoke-free housing available.  Facilities with a no smoking icon next to them have landlords which prefer, or require, non-smoking tenants. This, however, does not guarantee that the entire building will be smoke free.  Be sure to ask the landlord if you would be protected by a smoke-free policy, and how extensive that policy is. Would people be prohibited from smoking in all units, or only some?  Will they be allowed to smoke immediately outside your door, allowing smoke to drift into your living space?  The policies with the best protection from secondhand smoke prohibit smoking on all parts of the property, indoor and outdoor.

The following list provides smoke-free housing available in Allen County:

Golden Lane Senior Community 4048 Allentown Rd Elida  45807 P: 419-999-1614
Luther Pines 805 Mumaugh Road Lima  45804 P: 419-225-9045
TSP Apts/Enterprises 1750 Bowman Road Lima  45804 P: 419-227-7479
Gatehouse Apartments 2275 N Cable Road Lima  45807 P: 419-331-5075
TouRest Rooms & Apartments 3900 S. Dixie Hwy Lima  45806 P: 419-991-3911
Market Place Apartments 232 N. Cole Street Lima 45805 P: 419-222-0155
Kelko Holdings http://www.kelkoholdings.com/ P: 567-208-0111

 

Materials and Tools

Secondhand Smoke Facts

Thirdhand Smoke (Scientific American article)

Smoking Policies in Multi-Unit Housing

Exposure Tracking Log

Sample Petition

Tips to Writing a Letter to a Landlord, Owner, or Management

Sample Smoke Free Housing Letter

Sample Letter from Physician

Smoking Cessation Resources

 

Landlords, Property Managers/Owners

Secondhand Tobacco Smoke is a Public Health Problem

Secondhand smoke is not just a nuisance, but poses a serious health danger to nonsmokers. Secondhand smoke is classified as a “toxic air contaminant” putting it in the same class of other contaminants including asbestos, lead, vehicle exhaust, and a host of other chemicals strictly regulated in the U.S.  The EPA has identified secondhand smoke as a major cause of cancer.  The U.S. Surgeon General has said there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and has said that “eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure; separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot completely eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.”

The National Apartment Association has voiced its support for smoke-free apartment policies stating, “Smoke-free apartment communities not only promote a healthy resident population, but also a healthy bottom line for owners and investors.”

As a landlord, owner, or manager you can play a vital role in eliminating a significant cause of illness in the home and a major cause of preventable death in the United States: secondhand smoke.  You can also save money on apartment turnover and attract more tenants by adopting a smoke-free housing policy.

Up in Flames: The Dangers of Smoking in Apartment Units

Demand for Smoke-free Housing

Landlords, management companies, property owners, condominium associations, and public housing authorities are all hearing from tenants who are bothered by and/or suffer health consequences from secondhand tobacco smoke that drifts into their unit from a unit occupied by a person who smokes. In response, they are increasingly choosing to adopt non-smoking policies for their buildings, which protect both the health of tenants and the financial health of owners.

Providing smoke-free apartments will help attract tenants, because the demand for smoke-free housing is strong.  Most tenants want to live in a non-smoking building because they want to breathe smoke-free air in their apartments. According to a recent survey conducted in the Midwest, nearly three quarters of renters would prefer to live in smoke-free apartments.

Surveys taken in other parts of the country show a similar preference for smoke-free apartments.  In Ohio, about 75% of adults are nonsmokers, and among people 65 and older about 90% are nonsmokers; yet, currently, most renters complain that they cannot find smoke-free apartments to rent.

Non-smoking units are easy to fill because most tenants want to live in a non-smoking building.  In Ohio, as in the nation, an increasing number of families have a smoke-free home rule.  Currently, 73.5% of Ohio homes have this rule.  Secondhand smoke complaints and requests for unit transfers drop following the implementation of a smoke-free policy.  Nationwide, 21% of the general population smokes, so it makes sense that a majority of tenants want to live in a smoke-free environment.  Children and people with asthma and other respiratory problems are especially at risk of serious illnesses caused by secondhand smoke; for them, smoke-free apartments are particularly important.

 

Legality of Smoke-free Policies

Landlords and apartment owners have the legal right to make their rental property smoke free, just as they are free to decline to rent to pet owners.  There is no constitutional “right to smoke.” [(link)http://publichealthlawcenter.org/sites/default/files/resources/tclc-syn-constitution-2008_0.pdf]       The U.S. Constitution does not extend special protection to smokers.  Since there is no protected right to smoke, property owners and landlords are free to adopt a smoke-free policy.  Landlords and property managers are free to make buildings totally smoke free as long as they abide by state law and notice requirements.  Owners of section 8 or public housing have the same right to ban or otherwise restrict smoking, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Apartment owners, managers, condominium associations, and public housing authority boards may all adopt policies eliminating or restricting smoking in multi-unit housing facilities under their control.  “As a landlord, you not only have the legal right to adopt a smoke-free policy, but the law gives you the ability to enforce this policy as you would any other lease clause,” G. Steven Rowe, Former Maine Attorney General.  As with smoke-free policies in workplaces, public places, and other settings, smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing do not ban smokers from using the smoke-free facilities, but simply prevent smokers from smoking in settings where secondhand smoke affects others. In other words, smokers are not prohibited from living in smoke-free multi-unit housing, as long as they adhere to the smoke-free policy. 

 

 Cost Savings

Smoking inside an apartment building leaves sticky, brown residue on all surfaces, which must be cleaned, or often replaced. Therefore, turning over a unit which has been smoked in requires much more time, work, and materials.  Smoke-free policies save owners money by reducing cleaning and re-painting costs.  Apartment owners estimate that the cost of refurbishing an apartment after a smoking tenant moves out can range from $500 to $3,500 compared to $240 to $560 when a non-smoking tenant moves out.  Click here to see what’s associated with restoring a smoke-damaged apartment.

 

The Monetary ImpactCosts to rehabilitate a unit where smoking is prohibited vs. a unit where smoking is allowed:

Non-Smoking

Light Smoking

Heavy Smoking

General CleaningPaintFlooringAppliancesBathroom

$240

$170

$50

$60

$40

$500

$225

$950

$75

$60

$720

$480

$1,425

$490

$400

TOTAL

$560

$1,810

$3,515

Data reflects surveys from housing authorities and subsidized housing facilities in New England.  Collected and reported by Smoke-Free Housing New England, 2009.6

 

Further, recent research suggests that smoke-free apartment buildings may have increased rental and re-sale value.  Real estate agents agree that as the number of public places in which a person can smoke has shrunk, so has the number of buyers who are even willing to consider the property of a smoker. Cigarette smoke causes a great amount of damage to the inside of an apartment.  The cost of removing nicotine stains, eliminating smoke odors, and repairing damaged, burned, or singed materials can be significant.  Apartment turnover costs can be two to seven times greater when smoking is allowed, compared to the cost of maintaining and turning over a smoke-free unit.

 

What Assistance is Available?

The Allen County Creating Healthy Communities Project is offering individualized assistance to multi-unit housing owners and managers, local Housing Authorities, and local decision-making bodies to adopt a smoke-free policy.  The Project Consultant/Health Educator will work with key personnel throughout the process of developing and implementing campus-wide smoke-free policies or strengthening existing policies.  Materials, telephone support, and site visits are available at no cost to the facility.  The Allen County Smoke Free Housing project can assist in the following ways:

  • Provide information to multi-unit housing owners and managers, local Housing Authorities, and local decision-making bodies and community stakeholders to help initiate the process of policy creation or revision.
  • Assist with policy formation or revision and the development of an implementation plan.
  • Supply sample communication materials and media.
  • Identify signage needs and provide free signs for the campus.
  • Offer strategies to enhance compliance and support for the new policy.
  • Provide educational tools and materials that can be used for tenant education.
  • Provide information about, and coordination with local cessation resources.

Contact Shelly Miller for free assistance in adopting smoke-free policies or strengthening compliance to existing policies.

 

Adopting and Implementing a Smoke-free Housing Policy

In July 2009, the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Public & Indian Housing issued a memorandum titled Non-Smoking Policies in Public Housing, which “strongly encourages Public Housing Authorities to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units.” In September 2010, HUD’s Multi-Family Housing Section issued a notice titled Optional Smoke-Free Housing Policy Implementation to encourage owners and managers of HUD Multi-Family Housing rental assistance programs, such as Section 8, to adopt and implement smoke-free policies for some or all of their properties. In May 2012, HUD re-issued the Non-Smoking Policies in Public Housing memorandum.  These documents are significant developments for clarifying the right of local public housing authorities, as well as providers of Section 8, senior, and disabled affordable housing to adopt smoke-free policies for the buildings under their control.  HUD’s support for smoke-free housing is key because buildings receiving HUD funding often serve individuals and families who are among the most vulnerable to the negative health impacts of secondhand smoke exposure.

The easiest way to implement a smoke-free policy is to make buildings smoke free as you develop them, including clear language in your lease that notifies incoming tenants of the policy.  You can also implement a smoke-free policy in a building already built and filled with residents.  When current tenants renew their leases, the landlord simply has them sign a lease addendum that bans smoking.  New tenants sign the addendum when signing their lease.

The following Steps to Smoke-Free Housing can help you ensure that your move to smoke-free housing runs as smoothly as possible:

  1. Make a Plan – Decide whether all or part of your property will become smoke free.
  2. Hold a Meeting – Gather employees and tenants for an informational meeting to explain why you’ve decided to go smoke free.
  3. Communicate Wisely – The success of your smoke-free policy will be relative to how well you communicate the policy with your tenants.
  4. Inform Your Tenants – Host informational sessions to formally notify tenants of the change, when it will take effect, and what the policy covers.
  5. Modify Your Leases – Update the language in your lease to include the new smoke-free policy.
  6. Post Signs – Remind tenants and inform visitors of the new policy by posting signs throughout the property.
  7. Promote Your Smoke-Free Status – Advertise your new status to help attract tenants who are interested in smoke-free living.
  8. Follow Up – Check back in with your tenants just before the policy goes into effect and afterward.

 

Enforcing a Smoke-Free Housing Policy

Smoke-free policies are largely self-enforcing.  Because tenants expect and tend to prefer a smoke-free environment, they will abide by the policy.  A recent survey of owners with smoke-free policies found that an overwhelming majority of them reported that staff time spent on managing the building did not increase after the establishment of a smoke-free policy. In fact, enforcing a smoking policy is a lot less of a headache than mediating disputes between smokers and non-smokers without a policy in place.

Many housing units that have adopted smoke-free policies offer some type of cessation services (quit-smoking support) to their tenants.  Though you are not asking people to quit smoking with a smoke-free policy, this type of policy provides incentive and support to those who are considering quitting.  Providing tenants with local cessation information is a way to show that you care about their well-being.  Click here for local cessation resources.

Remember, smoke-free policies not only impact residents, but also their guests and your employees.  When you adopt a smoke-free policy, make it clear that all guests, maintenance workers, and staff are prohibited from smoking as well.  Click here  for more on achieving high compliance with smoke-free multi-unit housing policies.

 

Materials and Tools

Secondhand Smoke Facts

No-Smoking Policy Implementation Sample Timeline

Legal Basis for Smoke Free Multi-Unit Housing

Sample Resident Letter and No-Smoking Policy Survey

Sample Smoke-Free Housing Policy

Sample Letter to Tenant for Smoke-Free Housing Policy

Model Lease Language

No Smoking Policy Model Lease Addendum

Enforcement Recommendations for Policy Violations

Secondhand Smoke Communication Record

Sample Notice of Smoking Incident Form

Sample Notice of Infraction Form