Property Rights: MN Apartments and Condos

Minnesota

Anti-smoking groups’ new target: apartments and condos

Neighboring counties look to expand smoke-free rental options
Jul 15, 2013
By Michael Brun
Workplaces, retail stores, government buildings, bars and restaurants – the list of smoke-free areas in Minnesota encompasses nearly every aspect of life.
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There are ways to go about this without a unilateral ban on smoking everywhere,” said David Kuneman, the Midwest regional director of Citizens Freedom Alliance Inc. and the Smoker’s Club, an online newsletter for smoking and property rights.
“The solution is to seal apartments,” Kuneman said.
He said that landlords have a responsibility to ensure housing units are “reasonably isolated” from each other, which also would help keep out obnoxious cooking odors, airborne diseases and pests.
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Archive Material


Anti-smoking groups’ new target: apartments and condos

November 11, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) After helping to push through a smoking ban in Minnesota bars and restaurants, anti-smoking advocates have set their sites on another target: your apartment.

One anti-smoking group plans to begin a campaign this week to encourage landlords to outlaw smoking in their buildings. While the program would be purely voluntary, some communities might follow two California cities by considering broader ordinances that would apply to multi-unit dwellings.

Anti-smoking groups still have millions of dollars from the state’s settlement with tobacco companies to spend on campaigns against tobacco and secondhand smoke.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from tenants saying that they are getting second-hand smoke getting into the living unit from somewhere else in the apartment building,” said Brittany McFadden, director of the Live Smoke Free campaign. “They are not letting anyone smoke in their unit but smoke is drifting in from other people’s units, balconies or patios. They are getting sick from their own living space and there’s not a lot they can do to protect themselves.”

The program will focus on apartment buildings in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area and seeks to educate landlords about the benefits of adopting smoke-free policies.

At the 58-unit Talheim Apartments in Chaska, residents have had six months to brace for the building-wide ban that goes into effect Saturday.

“Some residents have complained: ‘What’s next?’ But one person told me he’s so glad because he’s been trying for years to quit and this might help,” said Sheila Knox, Talheim’s apartment manager. “I’ll be out sniffing in the hallways.”

While the statewide law prohibits smoking in common areas of apartment buildings, there is no provision regarding individual apartment units. Earlier this year, two California cities Belmont and Temecula passed ordinances for smoke-free rental unit housing.

Minneapolis renter Brian Van Sickle, 32, doesn’t like the idea, saying, “It’s ridiculously Big Brother to go and tell me what I can and can’t do in my own home.”

ClearWay Minnesota, the state’s independent nonprofit that administers $202 million of Minnesota’s tobacco settlement funds, said the adoption of the smoking ban will mean refocusing some of its resources. Leaders foresee a shift from advocacy and lobbying efforts against secondhand smoke to helping ensure monitoring and compliance of the law, which took effect Oct. 1.

Anti-smoking advocates see other opportunities, including pushing for laws that restrict or prohibit smoking, largely at the local level. Norwood Young America, for example, has an ordinance that prohibits smoking in city parks during youth activities. The Three Rivers Park District, formerly Hennepin Parks, is discussing a proposal to make portions of the district tobacco-free.

“I think we are really shortsighted if we think that we just crossed the finish line,” said Jeanne Weigum, executive director of the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota. “The smoking rate in Minnesota didn’t go down because we passed a law. Anybody that looks at this as anything except another important step along the way is really missing the point.”

But with the enactment of the smoking ban, some of the usual funding partners are deploying some of their resources elsewhere.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Minnesota has allocated approximately $35 million from 2006-2008 toward tobacco prevention efforts, including about $14.5 million in 2007. But next year, at least partially because of the enactment of the smoking ban, Blue Cross expects to redirect a portion of its budget for nonsmoking efforts to a new anti-obesity campaign. It expects to reduce its anti-tobacco spending by about $4.5 million.

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