ADAMS -- Effective March 1, all units in the Greylock Apartment complex on Myrtle Street will be designated smoke-free.
Owner Donald Sommer said it's a change he first wanted to make in the apartments four years ago.
"Residents were complaining about smoke drifting between units," he said. "And many smokers already went outside to smoke."
Sommer received help from the Berkshire Tobacco-Free Community Partnership, a project of Berkshire Area Health Education Center (AHEC).
Joan Rubel, coordinator of the Partnership, said she started to visit property owners to discuss going smoke-free a year ago and learned Sommer was already interested in the initiative.
"The project is partly designed to support property owners who want to do this project," she said. "We provide free resources to support them through it."
Sommer said the response from current residents has been very positive.
"We sent letters out soliciting comments from people," he said. Of the approximately 15 that came back, only three were negative, he said.
Residents were first notified about the March 1 smoke-free date five months ago, he said, so they could have time to make arrangements.
While Berkshire AHEC focuses on the health gain from curbing indoor smoking, Rubel said property owners and renters can benefit financially.
"From the owner's perspective, there's a big decrease in the cost of turning over an apartment if you haven't had a smoker living there," she said.
"It's a real extra cost," Sommer said, adding it has cost him up to $200 just to have the walls cleaned in a smoker's residence. "That cost will have to be shared by everyone in the complex."
Smokers will still be allowed to smoke outside, Sommer said.
"We want to build an enclosed structure out back with the picnic tables, so in inclement weather people do not have to stand in the rain," he said. "People will be away from the building so smoke doesn't go in the windows."
Second-hand smoke is a great health risk, Rubel said.
"A lot of people think of it as a nuisance, but it's much more than that," she said. "Second-hand smoke implicates many health issues, such as asthma, strokes and heart disease. Every year there's people who die from health issues who have never smoked."
Other area multi-unit housing properties that have gone smoke-free include St. Joseph's Court and Village East in North Adams. The North Adams Housing Authority is also in the process of becoming smoke free.
Rubel said she expects to see more property owners moving toward making their housing smoke-free.
"For both health and economic reasons, this is a growing trend in the Berkshires and throughout the commonwealth," she said.
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