WEST SALEM, Wisconsin (WXOW) – When David Birdd started building his new apartment complex, he measured the benefits of opening a smoke-free apartment building versus cleaning up second-hand smoke.
"(It's) very potent and it travels," said Birdd, general contractor of Birddseye Development. "Especially in a building like this, it'll travel down the hallway."
By going smoke free, Birdd's not responsible for getting the second-hand stench out of this newest 42-unit building.
"The last unit, I had to repaint the whole unit, I had to replace all the carpet, I had to wash down all the wood works, and it still smells. You still smell second hand smoke," Birdd said.
Clear Gains, a Wisconsin smoke-free housing initiative, reports a smoked-in unit can cost up to 3 times as much to clean.
Clear Gains also reports 72 percent of renters in Wisconsin prefer smoke-free housing.
The county health department is using a community transformation grant to help transition La Crosse County's multi-unit housing into smoke-free housing.
"To help managers or landlords who are interested in adopting policies," said Paula Silha, health educator with the La Crosse County Health Department. "There's some guidance on adopting it, giving people several months notice."
The department is also providing signage to landlords to clearly mark property as smoke-free.
"I've got an addendum to the lease. If you get caught once, you get a warning, if you get caught a second time, you will be served with eviction papers," Birdd said.
No smoking is allowed within 25 feet of the building.
Birdd said he's getting a lot of calls from potential residents who are already excited about his smoke-free building.
He owns other apartment complexes and said he plans to make those buildings smoke-free in the near future.