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Residential Smoking Bans Catching On

Chris Lehman
12/18/2007

Smoking is banned in most public places in the Northwest. Some apartment owners are taking those restrictions even further. That means if you live in one of a growing number of apartment complexes around the region, you can't smoke at home. Correspondent Chris Lehman has more.

TRANSCRIPT

AT LEAST 11,000 APARTMENT UNITS IN OREGON AND WASHINGTON ARE NOW SMOKE–FREE. YOU CAN'T SMOKE INSIDE. YOU CAN'T SMOKE ON YOUR BALCONY. AND IN SOME CASES, YOU CAN'T SMOKE ANYWHERE ON THE PROPERTY. JIM WIARD IS WITH PORTLAND–BASED GUARDIAN MANAGEMENT, WHICH BANNED SMOKING THIS SUMMER IN NEARLY THREE–QUARTERS OF ITS APARTMENT COMPLEXES IN WASHINGTON AND OREGON. HE SAYS NO–SMOKING VIOLATIONS WILL BE HANDLED LIKE OTHER INFRACTIONS SUCH AS EXCESSIVE NOISE.

WIARD: "This will be just another policy that we will talk to the residents about, make sure they understand the policy and make sure they understand the reason for the policy. And we'll give them a little write–up or violation notice if they do violate that policy."

WIARD SAYS HIS COMPANY'S RESEARCH SHOWED THAT MOST TENANTS PREFERRED SMOKE–FREE HOUSING. AND HE SAYS HALF OF ALL RENTERS WOULD EVEN PAY MORE FOR IT.

WIARD: "We view a no–smoking policy and a no–smoking property as an amenity for residents that we can provide. And so we're marketing that policy as an amenity and I think more and more renters are going to be seeking out communities that provide a smoke–free environment."

APARTMENT OWNERS HAVE A SECONDARY MOTIVATION: COST SAVINGS, SINCE SMOKE–FREE APARTMENTS ARE EASIER TO CLEAN BETWEEN RENTERS AND HAVE A REDUCED RISK OF FIRE. ANTI–SMOKING GROUPS SAY THERE'S ANOTHER REASON TO BAN SMOKING IN APARTMENT COMPLEXES: HEALTH PROBLEMS CAUSED BY SECOND–HAND SMOKE. COLLEEN HERMANN–FRANZEN IS WITH THE OREGON CHAPTER OF THE AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION.

COLLEEN: "We received countless calls from renters who were suffering from drifting tobacco smoke coming into their units from vents, under doorways, from people smoking outside on their balconies and coming back into the windows. It was a huge problem."

BUT SMOKING ADVOCATES DOWNPLAY THAT ISSUE. GEORGE KOODRAY IS WITH A NATIONAL GROUP CALLED THE SMOKERS CLUB. HE SAYS RESIDENTIAL SMOKING BANS ARE THE LAST FRONTIER IN THE FIGHT TO TAKE AWAY RIGHTS FROM SMOKERS.

KOODRAY: "It seems like policies like this is more about the fact that I simply don't like what you do, and I don't want to even smell your cigarette remotely in that complex. So as a result I'm going to impose that preference of mine."

KOODRAY SAYS THERE'S LITTLE ANYONE CAN DO TO FIGHT THE BANS AS LONG AS THEY ARE PRIVATE BUSINESS DECISIONS MADE BY PROPERTY MANAGERS. BUT HE SAYS TODAY'S POLICY MIGHT BE TOMORROW'S LAW.

KOODRAY: "The lengths to which the legislative arena is going to dictate what we do in our lives essentially to protect us from ourselves is limitless if you want to start going down that road."

THE CITY COUNCIL IN SUBURBAN BELMONT, CALIFORNIA RECENTLY PASSED A BAN ON SMOKING IN APARTMENT BUILDINGS. AND TEMECULA, IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA NOW REQUIRES LANDLORDS TO SET ASIDE AT LEAST PART OF THEIR COMPLEXES FOR NON–SMOKERS. SO FAR RESIDENTIAL SMOKING BANS IN THE NORTHWEST HAVE BEEN INDEPENDENT DECISIONS BY PRIVATE PROPERTY MANAGERS. ANNABEL HARRISON LIVES IN A COMPLEX OWNED BY GUARDIAN MANAGEMENT IN BEAVERTON, OREGON. SHE SAYS SHE HAS NO PROBLEM WITH THE NEW RESTRICTIONS.

HARRISON: "I was okay with it because I'm not a smoker. And I kind of wondered wow, those who are smoking, I wonder how that's going to affect them."

HARRISON'S COMPLEX WENT SMOKE–FREE IN JULY. THE SMOKING TENANTS WILL BE ALLOWED TO KEEP SMOKING UNTIL THEIR CURRENT LEASE EXPIRES. AND THEN THEY'LL HAVE TO MOVE OR QUIT. I'M CHRIS LEHMAN REPORTING IN PORTLAND.

© Copyright 2007, OPB

07.20.18

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