Village Green
The Village Green apartments in Glens Falls are seen Friday, October 12, 2012.  by Jason McKibben

October 14, 2012 11:55 pm
Post Star

GLENS FALLS — Village Green Apartments, a federally subsidized housing complex in Glens Falls for low-income individuals and families, is going “smoke free.”

New rules, which take effect Jan. 1, prohibit smoking within apartments, in common areas, within 50 feet of entrances, or anywhere else on the property.

“This is an act (which), when discovered, will result in eviction,” the rules state.

Carrying of a lit cigarette, cigar or pipe also is prohibited anywhere on the property.

“It reduces destruction to the property related to nicotine deposits. It prevents fires. The overall health of our residents is a concern, as well,” said Cindy Irizarry, operations manager for the New York region for Preservation Management, the company that manages the 136-unit apartment complex between Hudson Avenue and Broad Street, near Glens Falls Hospital.

The action at Village Green is part of a national trend the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development began pushing in 2009, said Janine Stuchin, director of the Southern Adirondack Tobacco Free Coalition, an advocacy organization working with the Village Green management on the initiative.

Maine has banned smoking in all public housing complexes in the state, Stuchin said.

The Boston Housing Authority, the largest public housing authority in New England, recently banned smoking at all of its properties.

Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority is banning smoking, effective April 1, Irizarry said.

At Village Green, the process of enacting the ban has been going on for about a year, Stuchin said.

Stuchin said she and Preservation Management officials worked with HUD to rewrite property rules within HUD guidelines.

The new rules were presented to tenants in conjunction with a change in utility costs, and tenants signed statements that they were aware of the new rules, she said.

Signs have been posted encouraging tenants to stop smoking, and the coalition and Glens Falls Hospital have conducted several meetings to inform residents about a state program that assists people who want to stop smoking.

People who call the New York State Smokers’ Quitline — (866) 697-8487 — can receive a free two-week supply of nicotine replacement patches, said Julie Wright, coordinator of the Tobacco Cessation Center at Glens Falls Hospital.

The two-week supply gives people enough time to save up the money they otherwise would spend on cigarettes in order to begin purchasing the patches on their own, she said.

Pre-recorded information, motivational messages and personal coaching also are available when calling the toll-free line.

Some tenants, obviously, were upset by the new no-smoking rule, but she is not aware of any who have moved out specifically because of it, said Irizzary, the regional property manager.

She said others, who prefer not to be exposed to second-hand smoke, are happy about the new rule.

“They have people who are on oxygen. There are cancer survivors. There are children with asthma,” Stuchin said.

In apartment buildings, cigarette smoke can travel under door ways and through air conditioning and ventilation systems, Wright said.

“It’s really a positive thing. We understand that some of the residents who are smokers may not be so happy about it, but it really is in their best interest,” Irizarry said.

Stuchin said the new rule doesn’t discriminate against smokers. It merely prohibits smoking.

“A smoker can be on the property. They just cannot smoke,” she said.

Some private apartment complexes in the region also prohibit smoking.

Glen Street Associates, for example, prohibits smoking at all of its apartments in Glens Falls, South Glens Falls and Hudson Falls, said developer Peter Hoffman.

Initially, it lost some potential tenants because of the policy, but the prohibition is becoming more widespread in the housing market, Hoffman said.

“I think it’s gone to a positive as far as marketing,” he said.

Schermerhorn Properties, which has apartment complexes in Queensbury, Moreau and Kingsbury, prohibits smoking at its senior housing complexes, but not at any of its general properties, said developer Richard Schermerhorn.