Smoking In Cars: USA Smoking At Home

USA Smoking at home update…

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Neighbor tenants tangle over tobacco
October 2, 2007??
By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
Colleen Sauve’s neighbors voted to ban smoking in their four-unit building three years after she bought her two-bedroom condo.
“I couldn’t smoke in the driveway, on the patio, anywhere, including the unit I owned,” says Sauve, 49, a city clerk in Golden, Colo. She and her husband, both smokers, sued the condo association but lost in November. Six months later, they moved. “I bought a crappy old trailer house,” she says. “I’m fixing it up.”
In a suburb of Portland, Ore., Shale Marks has tried but failed to get his next-door neighbor to quit “chain-smoking” cigars on the patio. “The smoke just goes right into my condo,” says Marks, 51. “I have a 12-year-old son who has asthma.”
LEGISLATIVE PUSH: Two Calif. cities to vote on banning smoking in apartments
Welcome to Smoking Wars 2007. As tens of thousands of apartments and condos go smoke-free, a new battle is opening in the nation’s decades-long fight over tobacco. Smoking bans have spread from workplaces to restaurants, bars, parks, ATM lines, cars with kids and now private residences.
Two city councils in California are moving toward making it illegal to smoke in apartments and condos, but most of this growing movement comes from landlords and condo associations acting on their own.
“It’s a sign of the times,” says Jim Wiard, portfolio manager of Guardian Management in Portland, Ore. His company began a smoke-free policy last month in 8,000 rental units in the Northwest, giving smokers until January to quit or move. He says more companies will follow because tenants are demanding clean air.
“We’re advertising that we’re smoke-free,” Wiard says. “It’s a sought-after amenity.”
The number of smoke-free apartments and condos has risen quickly in recent years, says Jim Bergman, director of the Smoke-Free Environments Law Project, a Michigan effort launched three years ago partly with state funding. In Michigan, he says, more than 600 buildings with at least 6,000 units ban smoking, up from no buildings four years ago.
Bergman says 48 public housing authorities nationwide have adopted no-smoking policies, but there is no national tally of the number of smoke-free units.
In Maine, 37% of landlords have smoke-free policies in at least one building and few hear complaints, says Amy Olfene, project director of the Smoke-Free Housing Coalition in Maine. Her group lists 1,631 smoke-free units on its website.
Bergman says smoke-free housing is a win-win for the rental industry, because landlords can reduce fire risks and cleaning costs while pleasing the approximately 80% of American adults who don’t smoke.
“There’s a huge market need,” says Kylie Meiner, tobacco prevention project coordinator of Oregon’s Multnomah County Health Department. She says a 2006 survey of 400 renters in the Northwest, funded partly by her department, found 76% of renters prefer a smoke-free unit but only 20% live in one.
“The big thing is the turnover costs,” says Robert Couch, president of Virginia-based Centrum Management. He says a smoker’s unit costs $800 to $2,000 more to clean when the tenant vacates. In September 2006, his company banned smoking in more than 5,000 units in six states. Couch says his company has had no problems enforcing the policy.
Some neighbors, however, have fought over smoke.
In Baltimore in May, newspaper editor Frank J. Keegan was arrested after allegedly pointing a gun at his neighbors during a dispute over his smoking. A police report said David Ayers complained that cigarette smoke from Keegan’s row house caused his 3-year-old daughter to have trouble breathing.
At least 27 lawsuits over smoking in multi-unit housing have been filed since 1991, some by smokers and others by irritated neighbors, says Edward Sweda, attorney at Northeastern University School of Law’s Tobacco Control Resource Center. He says judges side more with non-smokers, ruling smoke a “nuisance” akin to loud noise.
“There is no constitutional right to smoke,” says Brian E. Martin, the attorney who represented the condo association against the Sauves. “The smell of smoke alone is obnoxious. The court agreed.”
Landlords have a right to ban smoking in their rentals, but private property owners should be able to do what they want in their homes, says Gary Nolan of the Citizens Freedom Alliance and its Smoker’s Club. Nolan says no research proves smoke from one unit can harm someone in another unit.
The Surgeon General’s report last year said no level of secondhand smoke is safe. However, no major study in an apartment building has shown the extent of smoke drift from unit to unit, says Andy Hyland, epidemiologist at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. He says smaller studies in single-family homes show an unhealthy amount of smoke wafts from room to room.
Marvin Freedenberg, 79, says he’s glad his 200-condo building in Silver Spring, Md., began two months ago to bar smoking if it bothers others. Before that, he says, “you couldn’t walk down the hall without being disturbed.” He says he didn’t complain about his neighbors’ smoking for a long time because they’re nice people and “you don’t like to infringe on others.”

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