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Derick W. Steele: More apartments going smoke-free

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Oct. 4 starts Fire Prevention Week, a national event to raise awareness of fire safety. This year, I’d like to thank local apartment property managers who are helping reduce the number of fires in Howard County and the City of Kokomo, by making their properties smoke-free. In addition to the health benefits, there are many other reasons to go smoke-free.

• Residential smoking-related fires can be extremely costly. Prohibiting smoking in multi-unit apartment buildings greatly limits the risk of fire and may reduce insurance premiums.

• Apartment maintenance costs can be two to seven times greater when smoking is allowed, compared to the cost of maintaining and turning over a smoke-free unit.

• Tenants prefer smoke-free housing. Many statewide surveys from across the United States demonstrate that as many as 78% of tenants, including smokers, would choose to live in a smoke-free complex.

• Secondhand smoke is a leading trigger of asthma attacks and other respiratory problems and a known cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

No amount of ventilation can prevent secondhand smoke from entering other units. There is free help available for apartment property managers looking to make their buildings smoke-free. I invite them to learn more at or by contacting the Tobacco Free Howard County at

Free help to quit is also available for people in Indiana that use tobacco. Call the Indiana Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW.

Derick W. Steele, Kokomo Housing Authority