Smoke-free apartments popular trend in housing

- Smoking bans at parks, restaurants, and universities have become more common than no, but the movement is moving to other areas not typically labeled smoke-free.

A new apartment complex in Bradenton is one of the first non-government housing facilities to offer – and require - residents the chance to live completely smoke-free.

The complex says non-smoking units are in high demand among Florida renters. Doctors say you can be exposed to second-hand smoke just by living in close quarters - like an apartment complex - with smokers.

That's why before you're handed the keys at Echo Lake Apartments, you're handed a pen to sign a no-smoking contract.

Signs that read “This is a smoke-free property,” greet you as you enter Echo Lake Apartments at Lakewood Ranch. That means residents and their guests have to take their cigarettes outside property lines for even one puff.

"Everyone knows what they're getting into," explained the complex’s business manager, Jodi Blake.

She says not many are complaining.

"Health is a number one priority for people, and to be in a smoke-free environment is definitely something I feel people appreciate," Blake said.

According to the Florida Apartment Association, more than 83-percent of adults in Florida do not smoke and four out of five of them say they'd prefer living in a smoke-free community.

"Apartment to apartment, the walls are not 100-percent, just like a home. It can go through air-ducts and what not," Blake said.

And those passing fumes - doctors say - could lead to secondhand smoke issues.

"They can develop lung cancer, just like a person who does smoke. They can have cardiovascular disease, lung disease. It also increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in children," explained FOX 13’s Dr. Joette Giovinco.

Smokers don't have legal protection under any state or federal law, but people with chronic health problems do. They can file complaints under the Fair Housing Act if someone else's smoking is hurting their health.

Echo Lake is one of just three apartment communities in the Bay Area that's "Gold Certified" by the Florida Apartment Association for its smoke-free environment. Blake believes the healthy housing trend is catching on fast.

"Honestly, I would say 99-percent of the people are elated to actually be a part of a smoke-free community," she said.

If you're looking for similar housing options, there are two other "Gold Certified" apartment communities in Sarasota - Cityside and The Overture Grand Oaks.

In Pasco County, the only Gold Certified community is The Retreat at Trinity.

There aren’t any Gold Certified complexes in Tampa, but Grady Square apartments are “Silver Certified," meaning there’s no smoking indoors or within 25-feet of buildings.

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