Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

   Apartment dwellers deserve Smokefree homes, too.

   Everyone needs a safe, healthy place to live. Yet, many Montana renters contend with a health risk they can’t control: secondhand tobacco smoke.

   Exposure to secondhand smoke causes up to 65,000 deaths in the United States each year and can make problems such as Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) worse.

   Even if you don’t allow smoking in your own apartment, it can seep in from neighboring units through doors, windows, ventilation systems and even electrical outlets.

   To protect health, smoking should be prohibited from all apartments and common areas such as entries, lobbies, hallways and balconies. This doesn’t mean prohibiting smokers. It just means asking those who use tobacco to respect the rights of their fellow tenants to stay healthy by not smoking inside the building. Remember, we all pay for the billions in health care costs caused by tobacco.

   Landlords who go Smokefree can save both lives and money. It reduces fire risk and prevents costly damage to carpets, wall coverings, paint and countertops. It can cost hundreds of dollars to clean up and turn around smoked-in units.

   Going Smokefree is legal and relatively easy. The Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program can help by providing sample policy language, free educational materials and free smokefree signage. Interested landlords and tenants can get more information at dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/mtupp/SFH.

   I am the tobacco use prevention specialist for Carter, Fallon, & Powder River Counties and can help, too. Get in touch with me by email…..jrussell@rangeweb.net.

   Julie Russell RN

   Tobacco Prevention Specialist Carter, Fallon, Powder River County