The newsLINK Group - Multifamily Housing and Smoking

Editorial Library Category: Multi-Family & Property Management Topics: Housing, Smoking Title: Multifamily Housing and Smoking Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: The health hazards of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are not secrets. Also, there is no such thing as a legal or constitutional right to smoke. No wonder, then, that so many different groups are working to protect the people who live in apartments and condominiums. Editorial: Multifamily Housing and Smoking 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 The health hazards of smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke are not secrets. Also, there is no such thing as a legal or constitutional right to smoke. No wonder, then, that so many different groups are working to protect the people who live in apartments and condominiums. These groups consist of local governments, housing authorities, and the owners of multifamily housing. They are working to stop secondhand smoke from getting into living areas, and to have this kind of housing be free of smoke. What are the benefits of smoke-free housing? The most obvious benefit is improved health. Physicians and researchers have known for a long time that any kind of exposure causes serious diseases in smokers and bystanders alike: cardiac disease and lung cancer are the two people think of most often, but exposure can also cause diseases involving the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. These include asthma attacks, respiratory infections, sinus infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Children are particularly vulnerable to damage from secondhand smoke because they are still growing and the damage can follow them into adulthood, essentially setting them up for a lifetime of poor health. Does it make sense to have smoking in some areas and no smoking in others? Unfortunately, designated smoking areas don’t work. Smoke finds its way through cracks in the walls, lighting fixtures, plumbing, under doors, and in heating and ventilation systems that are shared. The only way to keep the air clean of secondhand smoke is to ban smoking completely. Smoke-free housing is something people want. They are also willing to pay more money if they can live in an apartment or condominium that does not allow smokers. In contrast, units where smokers have lived are correspondingly harder to rent and sell. Another benefit is that smoke-free housing policies save money for landlords and property owners. The walls of units with smokers in them often have to be cleaned or repainted. Other expenses associated with smoking include the cost to clean or replace carpets, curtains, appliances, and fixtures. Counters and floors sometimes get burned by cigarettes, too, and then have to be repaired or replaced. How serious the damage is depends on how heavy the smoking is and how long a smoker lives in a particular place, but the turnover costs can easily be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. Fire departments appreciate smoke-free housing because there is less of a fire risk. That makes smoke-free housing a safer place to be. Insurance companies, which appreciate the financial benefits of lowered risk, will often give discounts on their policies for fire, life, and property insurance. Legal liability is another issue to consider. If you allow smoking in a multifamily community, there is some chance tenants might file lawsuits not just against the people who were actually smoking, but also against condo associations, co-op owners, landlords, and management companies. The lawsuits can be based on a number of different legal theories (such as nuisance, quiet enjoyment, and warrant of habitability), but they can also be filed under the Fair Housing Act, which is a disability law. Why would smoking involve a disability law? If someone has a preexisting condition that is aggravated by secondhand smoke, that’s reason enough. Ban smoking, however, and all that legal liability goes away. There are also some side benefits to nonsmoking communities you may not have thought about: If one community goes smoke-free, other organizations may adopt similar rules. Children of nonsmokers are less likely to pick up smoking themselves. What are the policy elements that should be included in a smoke-free housing policy? Introduction: Explain the purpose of the policy. Definitions: Provide definitions of important terms. These definitions should be clear and consistent.

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