Saving Lives and Saving Money
Smoke-free policies in apartments and condos protect residents and save owners money
While the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act passed by state legislature in 2006 protects people from secondhand smoke exposure in public places like offices and restaurants, it only covers the common areas of multi-unit housing properties, leaving some people exposed in their own homes.
But communities like San Luis in Costilla County, and property owners across Colorado are taking action to protect members of their community from the dangers of secondhand smoke and secondhand vape. Smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing properties create healthier environments for tenants of all ages and lessens the financial burden on property owners and managers. See how a smoke-free policy is improving life in San Luis.
Who is at risk?
Anyone living in multi-unit housing — including apartments, condos and some subsidized housing — could be exposed to smoke in the air that is shared between units.
Research shows that up to 65 percent of air can be exchanged between units and that smoke travels through even tiny cracks and crevices, exposing residents in adjacent units.1 Ventilation systems do not remove all of the minute particles and toxic gases.2
Smoking and vaping inside multi-unit housing are allowed unless there is a local ordinance or property smoke-free policy. As of August 2018, all residents of public housing authority properties are protected by smoke-free policies. Learn more below.
What’s the problem?
Exposure to secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing can have both immediate and long-term health effects.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which contains 4,000 dangerous chemicals, including 69 that cause cancer.3 Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing 41,000 nonsmokers each year.4
Those exposed can suffer from significant health-related consequences including heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and much more. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma and a variety of respiratory infections, including pneumonia.5
And it’s not just secondhand cigarette smoke. Marijuana smoke, both first and secondhand, contains the same cancer-causing chemicals as tobacco smoke.6 There is now conclusive evidence that vaping indoors increases airborne particulate matter and nicotine. 7 That means that vaping does expose residents to chemicals in the air, not just harmless water vapor as many manufacturers claim.
For Property Owners and Managers
Allowing smoking in multi-unit housing creates a financial burden for the owners and managers. As a result of cigarette smoking in their buildings, property owners incur extensive costs for maintenance, cleaning and fire damage and they may pay higher insurance premiums.
Cigarette fires cause roughly 5 percent of all residential fires in Colorado, 36 percent of all residential fire fatalities, 14 percent of all residential fire injuries, and 7 percent of all residential property loss.8
Additionally, cleaning up damage caused by smoking in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment can cost a housing provider between $4,000 and $15,000.8
The good news
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development passed a policy that requires all public housing authorities across the country to implement smoke-free policies by July 31, 2018. This will protect residents, especially young children and the elderly, from dangerous secondhand smoke. It will also lessen maintenance costs and help keep properties in good condition. Learn more on the HUD website.
If you live in a privately owned apartment, contact your property manager or owner and tell them you support a smoke-free policy.
If you own or manage a privately owned property, you can contact Teddy Montoya (Teddy.Montoya@dhha.org) for assistance in implementing a smoke-free policy.