By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer
ST PETER — Charles Schnitzler used to be able to smoke in his home, but no longer.
“It’s been kind of rough, but I’m doing OK,” the 85-year-old said of his St. Peter apartment complex’s recent ban on smoking anywhere in the building.
On Jan. 1, Lloyd Management of Mankato, in conjunction with the American Lung Association’s smoke-free housing program, enacted a smoking ban at its Central Square Apartments and Nicollet Meadows Townhomes.
Lloyd Regional Property Manager Julie Liebl said the action at the two St. Peter sites is a testing ground for the company’s plan to make all its properties smoke free.
Lloyd will enact the policy at two dozen more properties in coming months.
Liebl said residents were informed a couple of months ago that the ban was coming, and those who didn’t comply would have to move.
Under Minnesota law, smoking isn’t allowed in common areas of rental apartment buildings, but it is up to the properties’ owners to decide whether to disallow it in apartment units as well.
According to Erin Simmons of the American Lung Association, the smoke-free initiative in rental complexes is based on the negative effects of second-hand smoke that can waft through buildings even when smoking is confined to apartments.
Liebl said the move will save the company costly expenses relating to smoke damage and odor mitigation in apartments where tenants smoked.
She said no residents of the two properties chose to move as a result of the smoking ban, although the number of smokers involved is small in the first place.
“Our intention is that we don’t want to lose residents; we just want to create healthy environments. We expected to hear: This is my home, I want to smoke in it. But I didn’t hear that once.”
Schnitzler used the ban as motivation to stop smoking.
“I guess it’s for the better,” he said of the prohibition, though he calls it “kind of jerk deal” because his past freedom to smoke in his apartment was a key factor in his decision to move there.
Liebl said most of the feedback she’s received from residents has been positive.
Central Square resident Marlene Fransen can be counted among the yea-sayers.
“That is just great. I understand fully,” she said of the management company’s smoke-free decision.
She said tobacco smoke, even its lingering smell, is anathema to her.
“I work with people who smoke, and you can smell it on them when they come back inside.”