Anti-smoking efforts are hitting smokers where they live. At least two major central Ohio apartment companies are implementing smoke-free policies this year, and more are expected to follow suit.
T&R Properties, which manages more than 20 central Ohio complexes, and Crawford Hoying, with 25 complexes, are banning smoking in certain buildings, including on patios and terraces.
Tenants must move to a building where smoking is allowed or agree not to smoke at home.
Violating the agreement would be treated like breaking any lease agreement, such as a no-pet rule, and could result in eviction.
Crawford Hoying announced its policy in August, becoming central Ohio's first large apartment manager to prohibit smoking in some of its units. The policy will take effect this August, giving tenants a year to prepare.
T&R Properties' policy took effect Jan. 1 and will be phased in throughout the year as tenants' leases come due.
Dave Carline, president of Crawford Hoying's multifamily division, and Sandi Schmitt, operations facilitator for T&R Properties, cited several reasons for the policies, including the risk of fire, the dangers of secondhand smoke, tenants' preference for smoke-free buildings and the decline in number of smokers. They now account for about 19 percent of the U.S. population, down from about 40 percent in the 1970s.
"Absolutely, this will become more common," Carline said. "For a lot of companies, us included, there's a degree of risk in taking the move. We like all our customers and don't want to lose any, but someone had to go first, if you will."
Carline and Schmitt said about half the buildings in their company's complexes will be designated smoke-free initially, though they said that number could rise depending on response. Crawford Hoying and T&R Properties, which together manage about 9,000 central Ohio apartments with about 18,000 residents, are huge players to adopt anti-smoking policies, but some smaller complexes already have hung no-smoking signs.
Metropolitan Holdings has banned smoking for five or six years in the 75 apartments in the Grandview Heights area that it manages, said company President Matt Vekasy.
The company adopted the policy in part because of the high cost of cleaning smokers' apartments.
"We have one unit in one of our smaller properties where someone smoked and the unit needed so much repair, the carpet had to be replaced and the whole unit had to be repainted two or three times," Vekasy said.
Skywae Townhomes on the Far North Side, managed by Roger C. Perry & Co., is also smoke-free.
One Skywae resident, Amira Ellan, found the policy easy to live with even though she is a cigar smoker. Skywae residents could smoke outside their units.
"It was fine with me," said Ellan, 20, a manager at House of Cigar on the North Side. "I didn't want my things to smell like cigars. I would smoke outside. I had a porch with a cover over it."
Ellan and other smokers contacted said the policies didn't bother them, as long as smokers have some apartments they can rent.
"If that's the rules, the renter has to abide by it," said Benjamin Berkeley, a salesman at Smokers Haven in the University District. "It makes sense if they have multiple buildings, though if I'm looking for an apartment and they only have one building and it's smoke-free, what am I going to do? I've got to abide by their rules."
Carline and Schmitt said tenant reaction so far has been positive.
"So far, we're hearing really good things," Schmitt said. "Residents are excited; they're welcoming the change; they're glad to see we're acknowledging the issue. ... I have not heard any criticism yet."
Although trade associations do not track smoke-free apartments, industry officials say such policies have become more common as the number of smokers decline and the fear of secondhand smoke grows.
"The trend toward smoke-free rental housing tracks the trend we see in making other facilities smoke-free," said Laura Swanson, executive director of the Columbus Apartment Association. "The rental-housing market is driven by consumer demand."
Several New York City apartment buildings are smoke-free, and in October, Boston became the largest city in the nation to ban smoking in public-housing complexes. Smaller cities, such as York, Pa., have adopted similar policies, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development encourages owners of subsidized housing to create smoke-free zones.
Such policies also may be encouraged by landlords' insurance policies. At least one insurance company, Capital Insurance Group, offers a discount on premiums to landlords who operate smoke-free buildings.
Columbus Public Health also has encouraged smoke-free apartments and is working with at least one other large apartment manager considering the policy, said spokesman Jose Rodriguez.
"I expect that it's a trend toward the future of people trying to build healthier and safer communities," Rodriguez said.
Not sure if you got my response-- it disappeared from my screen. The headline says "Two Ohio apartment complex owners create smokers only buildings", which implies that they have buildings in which only smokers can rent an apartment. This is clearly not the case. I suspect the original head was "Two Ohio apartment complex owners create NON-smokers only buildings" and the NON was somehow dropped.
The headline doesn't match the story. There's nothing about creating smokers-only buildings, and everything about no-smoking housing.
@johnkmholland The article does say some complexes are going no smoking completely. The two mentioned in the headline are permitting smoking in some of their units: "Carline and Schmitt said about half the buildings in their company's complexes will be designated smoke-free initially."