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Devils Lake landlord honored for going tobacco-free

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DEVILS LAKE, ND (WDAZ-TV) - The secondhand smoke from even one tenant smoking indoors can cause health problems for people in multiple other units.

In North Dakota it is legal to smoke inside an apartment, but one landlord is making a difference in Devils Lake.

Dan Lagein, Lagein Apartments owner: “Probably over a year ago we went smoke free.”

Dan Lagein was honored today for being the first landlord in Devils Lake to make five of his apartment units tobacco-free.

Lagein: “With Liz's help here we've got all the signage and the verbiage for our contracts, so that started all that probably about six months ago.”

Liz Bonney, Lake Region District Health: “Well right now the law reads you can actually smoke inside your apartment within the confines, but not in any common areas and not within 20 feet of the building. What Dan has done is he has taken the state policy, our motto policy I should say, and kicked it up a notch.”

Signs show smoking is prohibited inside the building and within 20 feet of the entrance.

Lagein says there were several requests from tenants to go smoke free.

Lagein: “The smoke that resonates through the whole building, the tenants were just tired of the smoke smell for the small percentage that do it, it affects everybody involved.”

In North Dakota 18%of people smoke, but secondhand smoke can affect everyone.

Bonney: “The larger population needs to be acknowledged and they need to have a place to go and a place to rent that is, you know, protects them and their kids and is tobacco free.”

The hope now is that it will create a domino effect for other property owners.

Bonney: “Now that other property managers and property owners are going to see that he's taken the step, it's kind of like the first domino falling and maybe tenants will start speaking up.”

Lagein says while people may still sneak a smoke, the change has made a difference in the smell of the building.

Lagein: “It's a great day for all of us and especially for the young ones involved or anybody involved that is sensitive to smoke or doesn't appreciate it, you know, it just gives them their rights too.”

A move by one landlord that could make a difference for housing in the whole community.

Officials say secondhand smoke can cause cancer, heart attacks, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.