News and Events

Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Options Expand in Highlands County
August 30, 2017

There are many assertions as to why smoke-free housing is the right thing to do.  Tenant Rights, Fair Housing, Americans with Disability Act Claims, Quiet Enjoyment, Fire Hazzard, Insurance Claims, Complaints, Unnecessary Damage & Expense.  In the end however,  many properties just decided it is the right thing to do, which is exactly what FOUR multi-unit housing properties did last quarter in Highlands County, with the help of Amanda John, Tobacco Prevention Specialist.    

Three of the four properties are managed by Hallmark Properties, who recently decided to make the change and all properties would become smoke-free as of June 2017. Citrus Terrace, Herons Landing and Placid Arms, all in Highlands County, made the big announcement in April and were met with many complaints. However, it was either, quit smoking in your apartment, outside of your apartment and only in designated areas, OR move out. “At first, tenants were outraged, but they got over it once they realized we were serious,” said Libby, Manager at Herons Landing, “they didn’t want to be forced to move out.”  Citrus Terrace and Placid Arms managers also reported that they were faced with the same response initially, but overall the transition has been much easier than originally expected.

Highlands Village, a property managed by American Apartment Management, also decided to take the plunge and create a healthier, cleaner environment for their tenants, by implementing a smoke-free policy. Their tenants were equally as outraged and they received major backlash from some saying they would not stop smoking in their apartments and a few even threatened to move out. “We knew it would not be taken seriously at first, but after we had several meetings, put up signage, and created designated smoking areas the mood changed a little bit and people started to calm down,” said Marta Ortega, Manager at Highlands Village.    

Amanda John, TPS in Highlands County, helped provide signage for all 4 properties, but also put Ortega, with Highlands Village in touch with Bethany Coz from AHEC, to provide cessation classes to those tenants that were wanting to quit. “We were surprised at the turnout,” said Ortega, “we had 7 people attend and since then 2 of those have completely quit smoking!” Highlands Village plans to do a few more cessation classes for those that were unable to make it and to also encourage those who have not quit yet, to do so.