Back around the turn of the millennium, I was a college student looking for an apartment in Boulder.
Though I was a heavy smoker at the time, the right to puff away indoors never really concerned me — perhaps because of the environment I lived in. Smoker-friendly apartments weren't common in Boulder, where the culture already then strongly favored nonsmokers.
I ended up in a nonsmoking apartment building where about half the residents smoked. We'd meet on the porch and chat in our lawn chairs. To me, the situation felt perfectly normal. I enjoyed cigarettes, but I understood why I wasn't allowed to light up indoors. Smoking was my choice; not anyone else's.
Of course, as smokers went, I was in the minority. Many of my friends resented the rules. And in the years to follow, those rules would get stricter as smoking was banished from restaurants and bars, and — in Boulder, at least — most apartments.
But here in the Springs, many apartments still allow you to smoke, and the local housing authority, home to many low-income seniors and children, doesn't own a single nonsmoking building.
Some local property owners say people should have the right to do as they please in their own homes. But a growing body of evidence (see story here) is proving that apartment smokers affect the health of their nonsmoking neighbors.
Nationwide, housing authorities, landlords and even governments are banning smoking in apartments. If the conversion hasn't started here, the conversation has — and it's already getting pretty hot.