Multi-unit housing represents 15% of the housing units in Oklahoma, accommodating well over a quarter million residents of our state. There are more than 1,000 apartment complexes and more than 100 public housing authorities in all sizes of communities. This is an important industry in Oklahoma that can play a key role in developing a healthier population and workforce through tobacco-free and smokefree policies.
No matter how you separate smoking and nonsmoking residents, every one of them is exposed to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Expensive ventilation or air filtration systems still cannot completely eliminate secondhand smoke. It can spread throughout apartment buildings in a number of unexpected ways:
- Ventilation and forced air systems
- Doors and windows
- Electrical outlets
- Cable and phone jacks
- Ceiling fixtures and crawl spaces
- Gaps around sinks, countertops, cabinets or walls
- Neighbors’ balconies and common areas
After just a few minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke, a nonsmoker can begin to exhibit health problems comparable to those of smokers. On top of this, since residents spend a majority of their time at home, the exposure is likely to be prolonged, increasing their risk of illness or disease.
60% of Oklahoma apartment dwellers prefer an apartment in an entirely nonsmoking building.
Landlords and Property Owners
Studies prove that smokefree policies are healthy, economic choices for landlords and property owners. The majority of housing tenants prefer smokefree apartments, and a significant percentage would even pay more to live in smokefree housing.
The benefits of smokefree apartments and multi-unit housing are wide-ranging. Smokefree policies provide potential marketing appeal, as the majority of multi-unit housing residents are nonsmokers. A nonsmoking policy may even qualify your property for a lower insurance rate.
Also, smokefree apartments can result in thousands of saved dollars on maintenance. Every time a resident vacates a unit, it has to be cleaned in preparation for a new tenant. If that departing resident was a smoker, you may be paying thousands extra in the form of:
- Extra carpet cleaning or replacement
- Replacing blinds
- Replacing surfaces with burns or stains
- Painting and repainting walls and ceilings to cover stains and odors
Smokefree policies also reduce health and fire risks that could lead to legal and financial vulnerability. Smoking is a leading known cause of apartment fires, causing injury, death and millions of dollars in damages.
Landlords and property owners have the freedom and flexibility to create the type of smokefree policy that best suits their situation. Different levels include:
- Level 1 – Nonsmoking Indoor Workplace and Indoor Common Areas
- Level 2 – Designated Nonsmoking Buildings
- Level 3 – Add Nonsmoking Zones on Balconies
- Level 4 – All Buildings are Nonsmoking, Including Balconies
- Level 5 – Nonsmoking Property
- Level 6 – Tobacco-Free Property
For more information on smokefree multi-unit housing, click here.