A new statewide push aims to protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke, meaning smokers could be told not to light up in their own apartments.
The voluntary initiative, led by the Florida Department of Health's Tobacco Free Florida Program, will help those interested in making multi-unit housing smoke-free get started. According to its website, secondhand smoke can travel from one apartment to another. In fact, the DOH says "secondhand smoke can seep through lighting fixtures, cracks in walls, around plumbing, under doors, through shared ventilation, as well as permeate building materials, and then enter adjoining units."
One Sunny Isles woman is spearheading the move in her Winston Towers building. Arlene Koenig is a colon cancer survivor who wants to protect herself and others from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
"I'm a cancer survivor and this became personal for me," said Koenig. "I do not want to breathe in that poison."
With the help of Miami Dade County's Tobacco Prevention Program and Sunny Isles City Commissioner Jeanette Gatto, Koenig is trying to ban smoking on balconies and in the pool area of her building. Eventually, she'd like her entire building to become smoke-free.
Still, some worry the move is a violation of personal rights.
"I would move out of that facility and find another facility where I had the right to smoke my own pack of cigarettes I bought with my money," smoker Trevor Robert Duffy said.
Koenig argues that despite 1st amendment rights, "smokers need to realize that just because there's a first amendment in the constitution, they can't trample on someone else's rights."
These conversations could be happening in a building near you. There have already been talks of making some public housing units smoke-free. In the meantime, Koenig says she's in the beginning stages of her movement. She and the Jeanette Gatto are working to convince the board of directors in her building to implement the policy.