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.