The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has launched a new Smoke-Free Homes web site to provide education and awareness of the benefits of living in environments free of second-hand smoke.
“The 2008 Smoke Free Air Act prohibits smoking in almost all public places and enclosed areas within places of employment, as well as some outdoor areas; however, it doesn’t cover individual units within multi-unit housing buildings, such as a typical apartment,” said IDPH Division of Tobacco Control and Prevention Director Meghan O’Brien. “Even though a tenant themselves may be a non-smoker, tobacco smoke from other tenants can migrate through walls, duct work, and ventilation systems to potentially expose others to second-hand smoke.”
The Smoke-Free Homes web site features sections for tenants and property owners/managers of multi-unit housing. Both sections address the health benefits of living in smoke-free environments and provide simple action steps for multi-unit housing complexes to become smoke-free. The web site also maintains a listing of housing complexes registered with IDPH’s Division of Tobacco Control and Prevention as having smoke-free housing units.
Benefits from voluntary smoke-free housing policies include:
- Protection from second-hand smoke creates a market advantage, as a growing number of tenants and owners are seeking smoke-free housing.
- Owners and managers can reduce excess building maintenance costs.
- Reduced fire risks.
- Youth may be less likely to begin tobacco use because of community-wide positive modeling behavior.
- A smoke-free policy can benefit property owners who might be subject to legal claims about secondhand smoke exposure from tenants.
The IDPH Division of Tobacco Control and Prevention is working with the Iowa Community Transformation Grant and statewide community partnerships to educate multi-unit complex property managers and owners about the economic and health benefits of becoming smoke-free. Visit the Smoke-Free Homes web site at http://smoke-freehomes.iowa.gov/.