Could apartments become the next no-smoking zone?

If the folks behind the Great American Smokeout have their way, the latest frontier in the “no smoking” crusade could be apartment buildings.

Calling all smokers! Put down your ciggies. It’s the Great American Smokeout today, the American Cancer Society’s annual attempt to get smokers to quit. More than half the states have now outlawed smoking in restaurants, bars and workplaces. Now, the anti-tobacco forces are going after living spaces.  

At least ten cities in California have already banned smoking in apartments. In New York City, condo and co-op boards are increasingly mulling smoking bans. In Boston, the city’s largest condominium complex, Harbor Towers, amended their bylaws earlier this year to ban smoking in the 624 units there.

Anti-tobacco groups argue smoke-free apartments will attract tenants and save money.

“Smoke-free means less maintenance costs and fewer disputes amongst tenants,” says Christopher Banthin, an attorney working with Northeastern University’s Public Health Advocacy Institute. “It really is a positive from the landlord’s perspective and it’s easy to implement.”

Capital Insurance Group based in Monterey, California advertises a 10 percent discount on property insurance premiums to building owners and condo associations that go smoke-free. Smoking rights advocates like Audrey Silk ask what’s next? Banning smoking in single-family homes?

“They’ll start with the argument that my smoking in the backyard is migrating to my neighbor’s backyard and through their windows,” complains Silk, the head of New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment. “I put nothing past them.”    

About the author

Sarah Gardner is a reporter on the Marketplace sustainability desk covering sustainability news spots and features.

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