To the editor:
A growing number of area landlords have implemented policies that prohibit smoking in and around their rental units. There are currently 111 smoke-free rental units in Fairfield listed on the State of Iowa
Smoke Free Homes Registry.
Some landlords include a prohibition on e-cigarettes as well. As of July 1, 2018, all HUD-sponsored subsidized rental units are also smoke-free. This adds another 212 units of smoke-free housing bringing the total to 323 units in the city, plus even more that aren’t listed on the site.
Smoke-free policies have become the norm because of the many benefits to property owners and tenants alike, such as decreased cleaning costs, less property damage from burn holes, and less litter from cigarette butts on the property. Non-smoking tenants in adjoining apartments appreciate not being exposed to secondhand smoke which can drift between units.
Another reason to prohibit smoking in rental units is to prevent harm from third-hand smoke. Thirdhand smoke is the residue from nicotine and other chemicals that is left on furniture, carpet, clothes and
other places long after smoking has taken place. It is made up of harmful tobacco toxins that have significant health risks. Carpets and drapes that smell like smoke and walls and ceilings with yellow-colored stains from nicotine and tar are a few indicators that thirdhand smoke and tobacco toxins are present.
Thirdhand smoke residue builds up on surfaces over time and is not eliminated by normal cleaning, airing out rooms, or by confining smoking to only certain areas of a home. Cleaning a home or vehicle that has been smoked in may require expensive professional cleaning, as it can stain walls, floors and the smell can remain in drywall, insulation and other building components. Babies, children and pets are of particular concern for exposure to thirdhand smoke as they breathe or ingest toxins while they crawl on floors, sit on car seats, cuddle adults or play with toys where toxins may have built up over time.
Some rental managers question whether they are legally allowed to prohibit smoking in their units. Smoking is not a behavior protected by the constitution. Landlords have every right to include and enforce
no-smoking clauses in their leases.
The Smoke Free Homes website, smokefreehomes.iowa.gov, offers resources to property managers including sample smoke-free lease language. Local assistance on implementing a smoke-free policy and
help listing a property on the Iowa Registry of Smoke-Free Homes is available from the Jefferson County Tobacco-Free Coalition by calling 641-209-2209 or emailing email@example.com.
As the trend towards smoke-free rental housing builds momentum, tenants who use tobacco are provided information about Quitline Iowa to help them quit smoking. Quitline Iowa pairs tobacco users with a Quit Coach® to help them develop a quitting plan and determine if patches, nicotine gum or lozenges, or another medication would help them quit for good. All Iowans can take advantage of the free assistance to quit smoking by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visiting www.quitlineiowa.org to enroll. Registration specialists and Quit Coach staff members are available 24 hours a day.