Multiunit housing going smoke-free: Local data making the case for property managers to go smoke-free

Most of us are aware of the health problems associated with secondhand smoke, but when exposed in our own living space in close quarters with those who smoke, we may have little ability to do anything about it.

Public Health has been focusing its efforts on smoke-free, multi-unit policies in Bloomington for the past seven years. Of the Bloomington properties surveyed by the division, more than 50% of children in nonsmoking families reported exposure to secondhand smoke. Public Health Specialist Deb Miller working with support from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), has been tracking multiunit properties from the project’s inception.

“When this work began, there was no official list of which properties were smoke-free,” Miller said. “Our work focused on collecting individual property data through resident surveys and other outreach. Our findings provided the support and momentum property managers needed to go smoke-free with 80% of residents in smoking-allowed apartments supporting a no-smoking building.”

Public Health helped Sharon Kendhammer conduct her first resident survey when she was the property manager at Tarnhill Apartments, one of several properties Steven Scott Management has in Bloomington. Survey results showed a majority of residents at Tarnhill supported a smoke-free policy. Implementing the policy had a positive effect by eliminating smoking complaints, helping residents who smoked to quit and adding to Tarnhill’s appeal as a healthy place to live. Since then, Kendhammer has worked with Public Health to conduct surveys in six additional Bloomington properties, all of which will be implementing smoke-free policies January 2020.

SHIP’s work has assisted 30 Bloomington properties in going smoke-free, impacting more than 2,000 units. Two property management companies, Girard Management Inc. and Premier Properties, have turned their entire portfolios smoke-free, affecting 4,000 units collectively. These companies have units across the metro area, making their impact even greater.

For more information, contact Public Health Specialist Deb Miller at 952-563-8928.