No Smoke in Your Eyes at The Birches
The Birches, the new 55 plus community in Schoharie, offers numerous amenities including a media and theater room, community patio and garden area and a smoke-free living environment. Residents and visitors at the 72 one and two bedroom apartment complex do not have to worry about tobacco smoke/aerosol in their eyes, lungs or air ducts. Wingate Apartment Homes, the property’s management company, has adopted a tobacco-free policy for the senior living community and incorporated the language into residents’ leases. Tenants and visitors may not smoke anywhere in rented units, in any of the common areas or on the landscaped grounds outside.
Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) worked with Wingate Apartment Homes to incorporate the smoke-free conditions into apartment leases and recently provided Colleen Moore, property manager, and Bob Santos, facility superintendent, with signs, window clings and bench plates to post around the apartment facility. ATFC-DOS educates the community and decision makers, mobilizes community members around the problems that tobacco addiction causes in local communities, and helps decision makers understand the types of choices that they have to address these problems.
According to Ms. Moore, “We want this to be a healthy property for everyone. Many of our residents have existing health conditions and breathing problems that are exacerbated by exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and aerosol. We know that no amount of secondhand smoke is safe and when one person smokes, the whole building smokes. Living tobacco-free should not be a luxury.”
Mr. Santos added that “smoke-free housing lowers maintenance costs, decreases turnover costs and improves value retention. Heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems can’t eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. Even opening windows and using fans does not completely remove secondhand smoke. Smoke-free housing improves the air quality for all residents.”
Preventing and reducing tobacco use are important public health actions that can be taken to improve the health of New Yorkers. The U.S. Surgeon General indicates that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard that can lead to disease and premature death in children and non-smoking adults. Secondhand smoke contains 7,000 chemical compounds (250 of which are known to be harmful) and causes asthma, upper respiratory infections, cancers, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
John Tara Properties in Delhi Go Tobacco-Free
JT Storefronts Inc. DBA John Tara has taken steps to increase the health quotient of its Delhi tenants by incorporating a ban on the use of tobacco products in the units it leases. John Tara owns twelve buildings in Delhi with a total of sixty-one units that are leased to college students and families. The lease defines smoking as inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other smoking device for burning tobacco. The use of electronic cigarettes such as vape pens, JUUL, and/or other electronic delivery systems are also prohibited by tenants and all guests.
Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) recently worked with the John Tara property manager to help update leases and provided some tobacco-free signage and window clings to be posted at its properties in Delhi. ATFC-DOS is a grant-funded program through the NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control. ATFC-DOS educates the community and decision makers, mobilizes community members around the problems that tobacco addiction causes in local communities, and helps decision makers understand the types of choices that they have to address these problems.
Roger Lynck, the on-site manager for the John Tara properties in Delhi, agrees that preventing and reducing tobacco use are important public health actions that can be taken to improve the health of New Yorkers. According to Mr. Lynck, “The public health impacts of smoking and secondhand smoke exposure are well documented. Smoke-free housing policies can reduce health risks, smoke damage and fire risk.”
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease and kills 28,200 adults in New York State annually. While the current smoking rate among New York State adults is 14.2 percent, the rate for Delaware County is 23.4 percent.
One of the goals of the NYS Department of Health’s Prevent Chronic Diseases Action Plan is to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke and exposure to secondhand aerosol/emissions from electronic vapor products. By December 21, 2024, the aim is to increase the number of multi-unit housing units that adopt a smoke-free policy by 5000 units each year. Another objective is to decrease the percentage of adults (non-smokers) living in multi-unit housing who are exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes by 22.7 percent, from 35.2 percent (2017) to 27.2 percent.
Oneonta Student Rentals Go Totally Tobacco-free
Michael Stolzer of Center City Rentals LLC/OneontaStudents.com in Oneonta made his student rentals totally tobacco-free starting in the fall of 2018. While Mr. Stolzer has not permitted smoking of traditional combustible cigarettes in the homes he owns and services for the past eighteen years, he recently revised his leases to prohibit all tobacco/nicotine products including e-cigarettes/vape pens and smokeless (chew) tobacco. Mr. Stolzer stated “I care about student renters and will always provide them with clean, safe and secure houses or apartments. I know that smoke-free/tobacco-free housing policies can reduce health risks, smoke damage and fire risk.” He added, “I don’t know why any landlord would want smoking and tobacco use in their homes and apartments. In the past I’ve lost some potential renters because of the lingering smell of smoke and it certainly costs more to renovate apartments in which people have smoked.”
Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) worked with Mr. Stolzer to help him amend his leases and provided some tobacco-free signage and window clings that will be posted at the thirteen properties Mr. Stolzer owns in Oneonta. ATFC-DOS, a grant-funded program of the NYS Department of Health’s Bureau of Tobacco Control, educates the community and decision makers, mobilizes community members around the problems that tobacco addiction causes in local communities, and helps decision makers understand the types of choices that they have to address these problems.
Westlund Apartments Embrace Smoke-Free Living
The newly created Westlund Apartments at 61 Chestnut Street in Oneonta are providing a healthier, cleaner and safer living environment for its tenants and guests. Bret Bresee bought the former Church of Christ, Scientist and converted the building into ten brand new apartments. Recently Mr. Breese, the owner of Westlund, LLC, worked with Advancing Tobacco Free Communities in Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS) and adopted a smoke-free policy making all units and grounds including the parking lot and other common areas smoke-free.
According to Mr. Breese “Everyone deserves a healthy, clean, safe place to call home. Most people in multi-unit housing want to breathe smoke-free air in their homes, but often need help to make it happen. Living smoke-free shouldn’t be a luxury.”
ATFC-DOS provides support and technical assistance to residents and property owners to help them achieve healthier lives and safer properties. Smoking is the leading cause of residential fires and increases property maintenance costs.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, secondhand smoke exposure can cause serious health conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and asthma. The U.S Surgeon General states that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. About 3,000 nonsmoking adults in New York State die from diseases (including heart disease, lung cancer and stroke) caused by secondhand smoke every year. Children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of secondhand smoke given their developing bodies and lungs. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ear infections, asthma and respiratory infections.
Property owners and housing staff are not expected to “police” multi-unit dwellings but to respond in a timely manner to residents’ complaints of secondhand smoke. Smoke-free infractions are enforced through a series of verbal and written warnings similar to those used for other lease violations. The ultimate goal of a smoke-free policy is to create healthier, cleaner and safer surroundings for all residents and staff.