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Saratoga group assists landlords looking to provide smoke-free facilities

Saratoga County apartment complexes are voluntarily following suit when it comes to providing smoke-free facilities.

Since autumn, the Tobacco Free Coalition has been working with landlord and apartment complex owners to clear up misconceptions about going smoke-free and providing them the materials to do so.

The latest building to go smoke-free is a Embury Apartments, a subsidized senior complex in Saratoga Springs. The complex went smoke-free on Sunday, Feb. 17.

There are some residents that have been here a long time. They are smokers and will be grandfathered in. It's a process (going smoke-free). The residents had mentioned it, some were more adamant than others. Generally they don't mind going smoke-free, and we thought it was time, said Director of Housing Nikki Ferguson, who worked with program coordinators at the Southern Adirondack Tobacco Free Coalition.

Through services and money made possible by the state Department of Health, Tobacco Coalition coordinators have been sitting down with area complex owners as part of the "Multi-Dwelling Unit Project."

The objective is to help area complexes go smoke-free for health reasons and safety concerns as well, said Janine Stuchin, project manger at Southern Adirondack Tobacco Free Coalition.

"The biggest barriers we find is the property owners think there are legal issues with banning smoking. Property owners just need to know they can do it and how to do it," said Stuchin.

The regional effort is advising property owners that smoke-free policies are legal and similar to pet policies, she said. The property owner has the right to go smoke-free, she said, and recent studies show that the vast majority of tenants at multi-unit complexes would prefer to live in a smoke-free environment.

According to state polls, 70 percent of consumers report preferring smoke-free housing, and 50 would pay more to live there, according to the Tobacco Free Coalition.

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