No smoking signs are placed at various apartment complexes and condominiums, prohibiting people from lightning up even in their own homes.
And in those places where smoking is allowed, leaseholders and owners start to look for protection from the secondhand smoke they state is infiltrating into their apartments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that secondhand smoke can cause respiratory and ear infections, asthma, hear diseases and lung cancer. “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” the agency states on its official website.
These concerns have led to efforts to prohibit smoking not only in common spaces of buildings, but also in individual apartments. Last year The Department of Housing and Urban Development allowed public housing authorities to debate smoke-free policies.
The Alaire, in Rockville offers a saline swimming pool without chlorine chemicals, a solar-powered trash compactor and a smoking ban.
“For sure, this fact has forced more residents to us,” stated Matt Blocher, vice president of marketing for the JBG Companies that own this complex. Soon JBG will open the second smoke-free apartment building.
John Brothers, who lives at the Alaire since July, said that the no-smoking policy attracted him while choosing an apartment, as his wife is very sensitive to smoke. “Knowing that neighbors will not smoke was a pleasant fact”, he stated.
Mr. Brothers is a former smoker and he is for self-selection. “If you want to live in a place where you can smoke then there are a lot of places where you can do it.”
“It is a rather strong trend,” stated Tony Greenberg, the company’s vice president of development, referring to smoking bans in public places and offices. “People are used to it. They come to expect it and they will demand it”.
Such organizations as for example Turner’s Center for Tobacco Regulation, Litigation and Advocacy are creating in order to help people who are looking for making their housings smoke-free.
The majority of leasing contracts have nuisance clauses, Turner declared. “You can do whatever you want in your apartment, as long as it doesn’t bothers your neighbors,” she said. Property managers should treat secondhand smoke the same way they treat excessive noise.
What about the rights of smokers?
Susan Pizza of Washington, D.C. considers that she is a “courteous smoker” who understands that many people do not appreciate cigarette smoke. But she thinks that people have the right to smoke in their own homes.
Probably the biggest challenge in adopting smoke-free housing rules is related to those people who have been smoking and living in those apartments for a long time. One possibility consists in helping them quit and another is to exclude them from these new rules.
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