Guest post by Lisa A. Magill
Condominium board members that are feeling pressure from members to address the issue of second-hand smoke will be pleased to learn that there is a combined effort on the part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and others to advocate and encourage multifamily housing owners and operators to adopt smoke-free policies to protect residents from the dangers of second-hand smoke and to reduce property maintenance costs. A new 63 page manual for owners or management agents of federally assisted public and multi-family housing has been published that provides eye-opening facts for community leaders, managers and operators. Smoke Free Housing is a 63 page compilation of material that includes specific information that can be helpful in limiting or eliminating smoking on multifamily buildings, as well as links to additional resources.
From the manual:
1. Over 140,000 fires were started by cigarettes, cigars and pipes in the U.S. causing $530 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
2. Twenty-five percent of people killed in smoking-related fires are not the actual smokers, with many being children of the smokers, neighbors or friends.
3. Smoke-free housing saves on property maintenance costs from cleaning and painting stained walls and ceilings and repairing burn marks; and
4. Secondhand smoke is also associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
As courts across the country are addressing nuisance claims brought by non-smokers, with more and more ruling in the non-smoker’s favor, smokers have been required to install air ventilation systems and extra insulation to prevent smoke from entering other units. Some communities are voluntarily becoming “smoke free” through amendments to their governing documents and some municipalities have adopted ordinances prohibiting smoking in private residential buildings altogether – even if confined within the unit!
The issue of second-hand smoke is not going to go away. There are options to consider if residents are pressuring the board to do something about the odor, adverse health impacts, costs and annoyances caused by second-hand smoke and resources such as the Smoke Free Housing manual are available to assist in the effort.