Smoke-Free Policies are Legal for Multi-Unit Dwelling, Improve Property Values, and Protect Bronx Families from Dangerous Secondhand Smoke
October 16th, 2011—BRONX, NY— Councilman Oliver Koppell joined the Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership and Bronx Community 8 today in Riverdale for the Bronx Smoke-Free Housing Forum, “Laying the Foundation for Healthy Living.” The forum is hosted by the Riverdale YM-YWHA and aims to educate landlords, property owners, realtors and tenants about the economic and health benefits of smoke-free housing and how one can make their building smoke-free.
“I am pleased to introduce the concept of smoke-free housing to residents, landlords and property managers in Riverdale by presenting this forum with the Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership, Community Board 8, the Riverdale YM-YWHA and my fellow elected officials who represent this community,” said Bronx City Councilmember Oliver Koppell. “Surveys show that more than 65% of New Yorkers are interested in living smoke-free.”
Thomas Durham, Chair of Bronx Community Board 8 Housing Committee said, “As the superintendent of a building in the Bronx, I know firsthand the health risks and added costs that smoking in a building cause. Cigarettes are a leading cause of deaths in residential fires. Costs to rehabilitate an apartment where a resident has smoked increase dramatically over the apartment of a non-smoker.”
According to Deidre Sully, Borough Coordinator of the Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership, “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, a Class A carcinogen. Condos, co-ops and apartments around the state are voluntarily adopting smoke-free policies.”
The Bronx Smoke-Free Partnership is working with landlords, property owners and tenants to establish voluntary smoke-free housing policies in multi-unit dwellings. A growing public awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke, combined with an aggressive campaign to combat Big Tobacco’s marketing to our youth in our communities, has led to increased interest in living in smoke-free buildings in the Bronx and throughout the country.
Beginning September 2012, all public housing in Boston will be smoke-free and in Oregon, landlords with residential policies are required to notify renters of smoke-free policies in leases. Smoke-free policies are legal and encouraged by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
· A 100-percent smoke-free multi-unit dwelling means higher property values, lower fire risk and lower insurance quotes;
· A no-smoking policy can reduce property damage;
· The costs of rehabilitating a residential unit for occupancy are significantly higher when the previous tenant was a smoker. A 2009 study of public and subsidized housing units by Smoke-Free Housing New England found the cost of rehabbing a unit previously occupied by a heavy smoker was $3,515 compared to $560 for a non-smoker, with the biggest cost differentials attributed to handling the impact of smoke-infestation on flooring, appliances, bathrooms and painted walls.
· Secondhand smoke in multi-unit dwellings cannot be fully contained with ventilating systems, exposing non-smoking residents to toxic smoke. Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can lead to more frequent asthma attacks in asthmatic children in the Bronx.
The Bronx Smoke-Free Housing Forum, “Laying the Foundation for Health Living,” is the first in a series of such forums throughout the Bronx. The Bronx Smoke Free Partnership, Councilman Oliver Koppell, and Bronx Community Board 8 hope that today’s forum will inspire further discussion with decision makers and community members about how smoke-free housing policies in multi-unit dwellings can save money for landlords and property owners and improve the health of Bronx residents.