McLean County Health department is encouraging landlords in Bloomington-Normal to implement a smoke-free policy in their multi-unit housing and properties.
Plans to expand the smoke-free initiative within the community have been underway as the health department has sent post cards to 100 property managers to encourage landlords to make the switch to smoke-free properties.
Landlords have the same kind of authority to enforce smoke-free rules as they do to enforce pet or noise ordinances, according to Sarah Philos, health promotion specialist at McLean County Health Department.
A point of concern is that up to 65 percent of air is exchanged between units through walls, doorways, cracks and ventilation systems.
Renters have shown more interest lately and have become more aware of the effects of second hand smoke, according to Philos. In units that share both smoking and nonsmoking units, the effects of second hand smoke becomes even more of a concern.
“Exposure to second hand smoke causes the same health problems that a smoker may incur,” Dr. Jean Swearingen, medical director at Student Health Services, said.
Some of these effects include an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, asthma, emphysema, infections and cancer.
Recent studies have showed that up to 70 percent of tenants seek smoke-free housing. A portion of that percentage is tenants that are smokers themselves.
“It’s an evolving thing, it’s taking awhile to catch on, but in a few years it will probably expand,” Philos said.
The health department has been receiving interest from landlords since the post cards have been sent out. A big sell to landlords is that the turnover cost of a smoker’s unit will go down significantly.
“A turnover cost can be up to six times higher with a smoking unit than a non-smoking unit,” Philos said.
The health department provides resources and tools to any landlord interested in implementing smoke free policies into their leases.
These tools include sample letters to tenants, smoke free signs and implementation plans. The health department will also help landlords change their leases and provide surveys for tenants to view the results of smoke free housing.
The health department will also help tenants who want to approach their landlords about the switch to smoke free housing.
In the mean time, the health department is continuing to promote the initiative by advertisements and contacting these landlords.
“We are here to help, we are ready,” Philos said.