March 14, 2014
By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman
Twenty-one percent of Pennsylvania’s adults smoke cigarettes. And if Michael Wolf has his way, none should be able to light up if they live in apartment or condominium complexes.
Wolf, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, delivered that message to landlords at the beginning of the year.
It was more of an encouragement than a mandate. But it appears to have resonated as housing sites across the state have either banned or restricted smoking.
Forty-five of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties now have at least one multiunit housing site that is smoke-free, said Judy Ochs, director of the state Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control. Philadelphia has 15 such complexes, and Chester County 12.
The Housing Authority of Chester County last summer became the first housing authority in Southeastern Pennsylvania to prohibit tenants, guests, employees, and contractors from smoking inside the units or anywhere else on the premises.
“From a marketing standpoint, the heavy smokers used to sit on the front porch, sit there and puff cigarettes all day long. It just looked real bad,” said Dale P. Gravett, the authority’s executive director. “From a legal standpoint, this has been researched to death. As owners of a property, we can adopt policies like this.”
The Philadelphia Housing Authority also is considering such a policy, spokeswoman Nichole L. Tillman said, but would probably phase it in.
On Feb. 1, the Village of Pennbrook Apartments in Levittown banned smoking in all common areas of the Bucks County complex, including inside a parked car. The owner of the complex, AIMCO, is a publicly traded apartment investor that has other properties in Bucks County, Philadelphia, and across the United States that are phasing in smoke-free policies.
“One of our priorities at AIMCO is to provide a healthy, clean, and comfortable environment for our residents,” said AIMCO spokeswoman Cindy Duffy. “We believe our smoke-free amenity supports that goal directly. We see it as a health benefit to have cleaner air.”
People caught smoking in the common areas are warned about the policy and, if they continue to flout it, could be evicted.
But some Pennbrook residents seemed unaware of the policy. On Monday, a man exited from an apartment smoking a cigarette.
“You’re not allowed to smoke here outside? I didn’t know,” said the man, who declined to give his name. He immediately extinguished his cigarette by stubbing it along the sidewalk.
“You can’t smoke outside on the grounds here? That’s ridiculous,” said another resident who also declined to give his name. “My wife and I just moved here, and we smoke.”
Yet another resident said she was aware of the smoking restrictions but that she and her fiance had ignored them.
An interesting question: Obviously the main enforcement mechanism for this law would be neighbors reporting on the scent of tobacco smoke. Can we safely assume then that this has worked in the past regarding marijuana and that there is no marijuana smoking going on in any of these complexes?
- Michael J. McFadden
Editors note: We have notice alot of states even ours who are abusing the Tobacco Settlement Fund. The other day we got a mailer from the local election of the sheriffs and one even said Marienville pa which received about ($52,460.00)those funds were used for new police tower,police atv,patrol vehicles .. heres is a photo of the new tower these funds paid for..why these funds arnt going where they need to be .. Yes this tower was paid by cigarette taxes…