News and Events

Residential Buildings in Marion County Are Going Smoke-Free
Policies Protect Residents From Secondhand Smoke and Smoking-Related Fires
June 2 , 2014

OCALA – Smoke-free multiunit housing, a growing trend throughout the country, has made its way to Marion County.
Several residential properties in Marion County have implemented smoke-free policies. The growing list of smoke-free properties in the area includes:

  • Evangeline Booth Garden Apartments, 2921 NE 14th St., Ocala
  • Heritage Oaks of Ocala, 2820 SW 34th St., Ocala
  • Trinity Villas, Inc., 3728 NE 8th Place, Ocala

"The Salvation Army is totally opposed to the production, marketing and use of tobacco," said Milo Ayen, the Facilities Director of Evangeline Booth Garden Apartments, which is owned by the Salvation Army. "Nicotine is amongst the most addictive substances known.”

Heritage Oaks

 “The Salvation Army accepts the overwhelming evidence presented by medical science of the injurious effects of tobacco on the body,” adds Major George Patterson, Corps Officer of the Ocala Salvation Army.  “This relates to both those who smoke and to those subject to 'passive smoking' through their having to breathe in the smoke exhaled by smokers.”

“There’s a fear of alienating resident smokers, but most communities that have taken the leap consider smoke-free housing an edge over the competition and have determined that there is a market for this product,” according to Chip Tatum, the former Government Affairs Director for the Florida Apartment Association. 

Michelle Crabtree, the Housing Manager at Heritage Oaks of Ocala, stated “the transition to Smoke Free Housing has been a true positive for Heritage Oaks of Ocala. Many of our residents who use tobacco took advantage of the free cessation programs offered by the Tobacco Free Partnership and have either quit smoking or significantly cut back. This is an added bonus since it helps improve their health! Some applicants have told me that a factor in choosing Heritage Oaks of Ocala is the fact that we are smoke free.”

CDC Infographic

Across the state, there are more than 500 smoke-free multiunit housing properties and 73,000 smoke-free units.

For property managers and landlords, smoke-free policies can have economic benefits. More than 80% of Floridians are non-smokers.  Many people who do smoke do not permit smoking in their homes.  Given these numbers, many properties have very successfully marketed their smoke-free policy as an amenity, not a restriction.   Smokefree policies can save money by eliminating the need to repair or replace carpeting, floors, fixtures, countertops or appliances damaged by burns or nicotine stains.  At the end of a lease, smoke-free units require less turnover time due to fewer preparation and repainting needs.  “Our residents and their health are our top priority,” said Debbie Crawford, Manager of Trinity Villas, Inc.  “In addition, the ability to turn over a smoke-free unit with greater efficiency increases our service potential for those in need…A tobacco free campus allows us to do that.”

Tobacco smoke can move along air ducts, through cracks in the walls and floors, through elevator shafts, and along plumbing and electrical lines affecting units that are nearby.  Therefore, there are also numerous benefits for residents as tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and at least 70 known to cause cancer. Exposure, even for short periods of time, can be dangerous.

“A home should be a safe place for everyone, especially for children, people with existing health conditions, and the elderly who are more vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke,” said Dr. Barry Hummel, co-founder of the Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation which manages the tobacco prevention program in Marion County. “By making sure that residential buildings are 100 percent smoke-free, property managers are protecting tenants from the dangers of toxic smoke and from the risk of deadly smoking-related fires.”

The following are some of the reasons why it’s critical to protect tenants from exposure to secondhand smoke:

Secondhand smoke is not the only danger.  Smoking-related fires are the leading cause of fire deaths in residential buildings. These fires are eight times more likely to result in death than fires that start from another source. Smoking-related fires in residential buildings result in an average of approximately 365 deaths, 925 injuries, and $326 million in property loss each year.

For more information, visit For more information on smoke-free multi-unit housing options in Marion County, contact Manette Cheshareck at