Editorial: Smoke-free apartments have more pros than consPublished 9:11am Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Smoke-free apartments is quite a high hurdle for many landlords and property managers. It could upset many loyal tenants.
We ask that landlords and property manager look at the idea of smoke-free apartments and weight the pros and cons. In the end, they might discover happier, healthier tenants.
Here are points to consider:
• Secondhand smoke is dangerous. According to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, 581 infants and adults died in 2005 from secondhand smoke. It causes emphysema, asthma, pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and heart disease.
• Nearly 50 percent of tenants in Minnesota say smoke gets into their apartment from somewhere in their building, according to research by the Center for Energy and Environment.
• Of those, 37 percent say it bothers them enough that they consider moving.
• And get this from the same study: “Many renters would pay more rent and make other sacrifices such as walking farther to a bus stop or driving farther to work if they could live in a smoke-free building.”
• Some immediate benefits of smoke-free apartments are: reduced cleaning costs, fewer fire risks and fewer disagreements among tenants.
• Many owners see a decrease in turnover and vacancy rates.
Is it legal for landlords and property managers to make an entire apartment building smoke-free? You bet it is.
In fact, many have struck a compromise with smokers by designating a smoking area outside, usually under a veranda or some covering in case of rain.
Of all the reasons, probably the reduced risk of apartment fires is the major motivator to most landlords and property managers. And in apartments, sometimes the victims of fires are not the people whose cigarettes started the fires. It only takes one incident, such as the cigarette-caused fire in Bloomington in July 2006, to prompt many apartments in a city to go smoke-free.
If a landlord or property manager needs more information on smoke-free apartments, visit the website for Live Smoke Free at www.mnsmokefreehousing.org.