According to a recent UCLA survey, 80 percent of those who rent in L.A. live in a building that does not have a smoke-free policy in place. As a result, residents living in these buildings are subject to harmful fumes even while spending time in their homes. As such, the city is looking to further eliminate the problems associated with secondhand smoke by implementing a smoke-free policy that would prevent renters from smoking in their buildings.
Making a Serious Effort to Eliminate Secondhand Smoke
In an effort to eliminate secondhand smoke within the city, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a $3 million, three-year campaign with a focus on promoting smoke-free apartment buildings in L.A. Named simply “Smokefree Apartment Los Angeles,” the program was formed as part of a partnership between the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, UCLA, the American Lung Association and the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles.
With the great deal of support and evidence showing the benefits of having smoke-free apartment buildings, the program aims to educate landlords on the benefits of putting a smoke-free policy in place in their buildings. In one survey of 1,000 renters that was conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, 82 percent of respondents said they would support a smoke-free policy in their buildings. Even among smokers, 85 percent of those who claimed to be smokers said they would support such an ordinance.
Standing in the Way of Going Smoke-Free
Despite the support that a smoke-free apartment policy seems to have, the large number of rental units that fall under rent control may be the biggest obstacle in getting such an ordinance to be put in place. Even if a landlord wants to adopt a smoke-free policy, those who own rent controlled buildings that were built before 1978 are not allowed to put new policies in place for their tenants. This includes rules related to smoking. To get a smoke-free policy on the books, these landlords would need support from the Rent Stabilization Board.
While landlords with older buildings may have trouble with implementing a smoke-free policy, those who own market-rate rental units can change their smoking policy at any time. As such, the Smokefree Apartment Los Angeles campaign is focusing primarily on these landlords. Yet, despite the fact that tenants seem to support implementing a smoke-free policy, landlords seem to be less enthusiastic. Of those surveyed, only 55 percent said they would support putting a smoke-free policy in place.
This reluctance to adopt a smoke-free policy may be mostly due to concerns regarding vacancy rates. Yet, current smoke-free landlords report that they have not experienced any negative effects in terms of vacancies since they switched to the new policy. Furthermore, they are saving an estimated $4,935 in maintenance when they implement a policy that keeps cigarette smoke out of their buildings.
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(all data current as of 5/29/2017)
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