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July 14, 2014

Tobacco Free Suwannee encouraging local residential buildings to go smoke-free

Smoke-free policies can protect residents from secondhand smoke and smoking-related fires

Live Oak —

Smoke-free multiunit housing, a growing trend throughout the country, is making its way to Florida. Across the state, there are more than 500 smoke-free multiunit housing properties and 73,000 smoke-free units. In Lafayette County, Le Chateau Apartments has already implemented smoking-free policies. Tobacco Free Suwannee would like to see Suwannee County property managers follow this example.

“There’s a fear of alienating resident smokers, but most communities that have taken the leap consider smoke-free housing an edge over the competition and have determined that there is a market for this product,” according to Chip Tatum, the former government affairs director for the Florida Apartment Association.

For property managers and landlords, smoke-free policies can have economic benefits. More than 80 percent of Floridians are non-smokers. Many people who do smoke do not permit smoking in their homes. Given these numbers, many properties have very successfully marketed their smoke-free policy as an amenity, not a restriction. Smoke-free policies can save money by eliminating the need to repair or replace carpeting, floors, fixtures, countertops or appliances damaged by burns or nicotine stains. At the end of a lease, smoke-free units require less turnover time due to fewer preparation and repainting needs.

In one Florida survey of 421 managers of smoke-free properties, 99.5 percent of the managers agreed that smoke-free policies do not hurt occupancy and 30.1 percent believed that they increased occupancy.

Tobacco smoke can move along air ducts, through cracks in the walls and floors, through elevator shafts, and along plumbing and electrical lines affecting units that are nearby. Therefore, there are also numerous benefits for residents as tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and at least 70 known to cause cancer. Exposure, even for short periods of time, can be dangerous.

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