First-of-its-kind campaign provides materials for property managers, tenants to easily identify smoke-free status

May 01, 2012

For more information contact SRHD public information officer, Kim Papich, 509-324-1539

SPOKANE, Wash. – May 1, 2012 – It’s a fact, when it comes to renters in Spokane and across Washington state, 85 percent of them prefer living in smoke-free housing. Considering the reduced cleaning costs, lower insurance rates and decreased fire hazards associated with smoke-free housing, it’s a win for property managers as well.
 
This is one of several key messages Spokane Regional Health District will stress, in conjunction with the Smoke-Free Housing Task Force of Spokane County, as part of an educational campaign it launches this week for the benefit of both property managers and tenants. The campaign features first-of-its-kind, free window clings for Spokane County property managers to help their renters easily identify the smoking status of a property:
 

This window cling can be posted on properties that:
 
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  • Do NOT allow smoking anywhere on the property
  • Do NOT allow smoking inside individual units, balconies, patios, or any place on the property.

This window cling can be posted on properties that:
 
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  • Do NOT allow smoking inside individual units, balconies, patios, near windows, doors, or in common areas
  • But DO have a clearly identified designated area on the property for people to use for smoking.

This window cling can be posted on properties that:

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  • ALLOW smoking in individual units, balconies, patios or outside
  • But still enforce the Smoking in Public Places Law for the leasing office and common areas.

The campaign is fueled by data showing that over 80 percent of Spokane County residents do not smoke and that a majority of Spokane’s smokers prefer smoke-free housing. Also, secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States.  Promoting the availability of smoke-free rental housing gives residents more choices for healthy homes and is the next logical step in positively impacting the health of the community.

“Everyone deserves the chance for a healthy life, including living in a smoke-free home,” said SRHD health officer Dr. Joel McCullough. “This campaign, developed in collaboration with the rental community in Spokane County, will help our residents access healthier housing, free from the health and physical threats of secondhand smoke.”
 
Members of the Smoke-Free Housing Task Force of Spokane County include local rental property managers, health agencies and business people who care about smoke-free housing. Their collaboration with the health district on the campaign also resulted in educational materials for both property managers and tenants. The materials can be accessed at smokefreelivingspokane.org. The health district’s Healthy Communities program is also offering free technical assistance to help property managers develop smoke-free policies or lease addendums.
 
“A smoke-free policy is not just good for renters’ health, but it is good for business,” Lorraine Brooks, director of Multi-Family Housing with Kiemle & Hagood, Co., and member of the Smoke-Free Housing Task Force. “More and more, renters are demanding smoke-free housing. When they can easily identify our units as smoke-free, it helps meet that demand. In addition, the cleanup costs on a smoke-free unit are at least half of those where smokers lived.”
 
Facts about Smoke-Free Housing

Cost of Cleaning

  • The cost of removing the stains and sticky residue left behind by tobacco smoke can add up quickly. This money is rarely recouped from the tenant. Permanent damage that decreases the value and appearance of the property can also occur.

Reduced Risk of Fire

  • Smoking continues to be the leading cause of fire-related deaths.

Healthy Community

  • Secondhand smoke contains the same toxic chemicals that smokers inhale including arsenic, lead, carbon monoxide, and nicotine.
  • It is impossible to contain secondhand smoke within one unit – it seeps through HVAC systems, electrical outlets, crawl spaces, windows, and doors.
  • Healthy homes help to create healthy families and healthy communities.

Legal Issues

  • The right to smoke or not to smoke is not a right that is protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because smokers are not a protected class under federal law. (HUD, July 2009)
  • Residents have successfully sued for breach of warrant of habitability, constructive eviction, and breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment because property managers did not stop smoke from drifting into their units.
  • Residents with disabilities affected by secondhand smoke may request a reasonable accommodation to eliminate their exposure to secondhand smoke.

 
To request free window clings, or for more information about smoke-free housing or the health district’s Healthy Communities program, call (509) 324-1530, or visit the program’s Web site by clicking here.
 
More information can also be found at www.srhd.org. SRHD’s website offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community. Become a fan of SRHD on Facebook to receive local safety and wellness tips. You can also follow us on Twitter @spokanehealth.