EVERETT — If you happen to drive past Glen at North Creek apartments early enough in the morning, you might see an odd sight — people standing on the sidewalk in their pajamas.
It’s the one place that most are allowed to have a morning cigarette as the 87-unit complex moves closer to having a fully smoke-free policy.
The nonsmoking plan comes into force as leases are renewed. “Everybody will be fully covered by the last day in May,” said Linda Michlig, property manager.
The complex is one of at least 74 in Snohomish County that bans smoking in buildings, on patios and anywhere else on its grounds, according to a Snohomish Health District survey.
The public health agency has a website listing apartments that responded to a voluntary survey about their smoking policies. The complexes are identified in one of four categories: smoke free, smoking allowed in designated areas, smoking allowed on patios and balconies and smoking allowed in the units.
More than 450 apartment complexes were asked about their smoking policies. Of the 209 that responded, 68 allow indoor smoking in apartments.
Although state law bans smoking in public places, apartment complexes are considered private property. It’s up to each complex to decide its smoking policies, said Jennifer Reid, a healthy communities specialist for the Snohomish Health District.
Exposure to secondhand smoke increases heart disease and lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It’s only for the betterment of our health,” Michlig said of the complex’s nonsmoking policy.
There are costs to preparing apartments after smokers move out, like paying for new paint and primer. “It damages my asset,” she said.
And there’s one other factor — the cigarette smell that lingers long after the smoker has moved out.
“That is the first thing your brain clicks on is that smell,” she said. “It totally changes your perception of the whole thing.”
No one has moved out because of the policy, she said, and some smokers have told her that it’s helped them cut back.
Station 9, a 126-unit complex in Lynnwood, went smoke free in January 2017.
Smoking previously was allowed only on patios and decks.
No smokers moved out due to the new rule but “I’m sure it didn’t make them happy,” said Sheila Parker, assistant manager.
“We have residents that walk to the sidewalk on the front of our property,” Parker said. “That’s where they smoke.”
Complexes that have adopted a total nonsmoking policy have been given a “gold rating” on the health district’s website as well as a certificate.
“I love it,” Parker said.
Michlig said the smoke free certificate is framed and posted in the Glen at North Creek lobby.
“People call in asking about it and if it’s enforced,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of really great feedback.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.