Adopting a tobacco-free grounds policy is an easy way to create healthy buildings and improve the health of the people who use them. In most buildings in New York State smoking indoors is illegal (thanks to NY’s Clean Indoor Air Act), but there is still a need to further restrict tobacco use in order to protect buildings.
Smoke residue in buildings is toxic. Cancer-causing pollutants remain on surfaces and in dust long after a cigarette has been extinguished. This residue, termed “thirdhand smoke”, is extremely difficult and costly to remove from buildings. It makes sense to prevent the problem in the first place by implementing a tobacco-free policy.
Tobacco-free grounds policies typically restrict smoking near building entryways or on the entire property. A policy that restricts smoking within 25 feet of all building openings (including windows and balconies) is required in order to attain LEED Certification for buildings. However, policies that limit smoking within certain distances from buildings are often difficult to enforce, since few people choose to carry tape measures around and tell people exactly where they are allowed to stand and smoke. Restricting tobacco use on the entire property further makes it very clear that smoking is not allowed and thereby reduces the likelihood that toxins will enter a building.
There is no legal requirement for apartment buildings and residential properties in NY to restrict smoking indoors, but smoke-free housing policies are becoming increasingly common. No ventilation system can completely eliminate secondhand smoke, so having a “No Smoking” rule for the entire building is necessary in order to protect tenants’ health.
With a new building, it is easy to establish a smoke-free housing or tobacco-free grounds policy from the start. When you are renovating buildings or improving existing properties, it can still be easy to go tobacco-free. There are many free resources available to Syracuse builders through Tobacco Free Onondaga County (TFOC). TFOC can provide guidance, sample policy language, and free “No Smoking” signs. Posting signs about the policy is essential (and another LEED requirement). For more information, contact TFOC at 315-435-3280 or connect with the program through Facebook and Twitter (@TFreeOnondaga).