80 million Americans live in shared housing like an apartment or condo building.
About 30-million are exposed to second-hand smoke because of their neighbors. Now, some landlords are looking out for their tenants' health.
"I never smoked in my life. I never even touched a cigarette," says Beatrice.
But Beatrice has COPD and nodules on her lungs from inhaling someone else's cigarette smoke. Like her, if you live in an apartment building and your neighbor smokes, you do too. "You're looking at an estimate of anywhere between 40 and 60,000 deaths per year attributable to second-hand smoke."
That's more than all fatal car crashes each year. "It's not a good thing …(pause)… it's not a good thing."
Twenty-eight states ban smoking in public places, but smoking in apartments is legal. Now property-owners like Pam Berger are adopting smoke-free policies. "Why, just because you have limited choices and limited income, should you be almost forced to live in an unhealthy environment?"
Smoke can easily travel through vents and cracks under doors. "We just wanted to provide everybody with a healthier environment."
Jenna Brinkworth educates landlords on how to make the switch. "This is a growing trend across the country. Many landlords are becoming more aware that it's something they can legally do."
Smoke-free policies have increased 13-hundred percent in the last six years and tenants are thankful.
Madeline has asthma from secondhand smoke. Like Beatrice, she now lives in a smoke-free complex for her health. "I don't want to get any worse. I wanna see my grandkids … I wanna see my grandkids get married."
Smokers are not a protected class and it's perfectly legal for landlords to change to a smoke-free policy at any time. The benefits extend far beyond healthier tenants. Since Pam Berger's buildings have gone smoke-free, vacancy loss has dropped twenty-nine percent.