Smoke-Free Gaining in Multifamily

by RaeAnne Marsh


A ban on smoking is an emerging trend in multifamily residential properties, gaining traction especially over the past two years, according to Bryan Fasulo, regional property manager for national multifamily management company Pinnacle, which manages Residences at Fountainhead, a development at Tempe Town Lake, and Proxy 333 in Downtown Phoenix. Support programs in Arizona are Smoke-Free Arizona, administered under the Arizona Department of Health Services, which is part of a national program, and Arizona Smoke-Free Living, a nonprofit that was started by the Arizona Multihousing Association. The ban may include vaping and medical marijuana.

Some multifamily housing prohibits smoking anywhere on the property, and others allow smoking only in designated areas, says Fasulo, who explains that designating a smoking area may be feasible only on larger properties.

Non-smokers vastly outnumber smokers — by more than 4 to 1 — and Fasulo finds even those who do smoke often refrain from smoking inside their home.

The ban covers shared areas such as a pool and playground as well as buildings’ internal corridors — where residents would otherwise pick up second-hand smoke residue as they walk to their unit. And it affects other apartments even though there is no shared ventilation. The air can seep through doorways, explains Fasulo, and if a resident on an upper floor opens his window, he could get smoke from his neighbor below. In fact, up to 65 percent of air in multifamily properties is shared between units.

Fasulo also cites the heavy cost of repairs on top of the health concerns in the smoking issue. Banning smoking results in less damage to the apartment. “Smoke and nicotine leave serious residues. Even after the apartment has been cleaned, this can cause serious problems for those with allergies,” he says. Second-hand smoke clings to appliances, paint, flooring and other surfaces, and Fasulo notes, “The cost of rehabilitating a residential unit ranges from $560 to $3,515, depending on how heavy of a smoker previously lived there.”

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