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  • Shanley Bill Allows Tenants to Break Leases Over Secondhand Smoke

    [CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The RI State House.

    [CREDIT: Rob Borkowski] The RI State House.

    Editor’s note: The following information was provided by the the Legislative Press and Public Information Bureau.

    STATE HOUSE — Rep. Evan P. Shanley (D-Dist. 24, Warwick) has introduced a bill that would allow tenants of multi-unit buildings to break their lease if landlords don’t remedy secondhand smoke in their apartments.

    Bill (2017-H 5522), submitted at the request of the Warwick City Council, would apply to all leases entered into or renewed on or after the passage of the act.

    [CREDIT: Evan Shanley] Warwick resident Evan Shanley is running to represent Dist. 24 in the General Assembly.

    [CREDIT: Evan Shanley] Dist. 24 Rep. Evan Shanley

    In a multi-unit rental housing setting, secondhand smoke can drift from neighboring housing units, neighboring patios and balconies and from outdoor common areas into nonsmokers’ units through open windows, open doors and shared ventilation systems, according to the CDC.

    “Exposure to secondhand smoke is estimated to kill about 50,000 nonsmokers in the United States each year,” said Representative Shanley. “Studies have shown that secondhand smoke can enter neighboring housing units under doorways and through wall cracks and opening for electrical wiring, light fixtures, plumbing, baseboards and ductwork. We have come a long way since the days of smoke-filled restaurants, now it’s time to take the next step and protect those who live in apartment buildings from the risks of secondhand smoke.”

    A study conducted by Brown University released on Dec.26, found that metropolitan areas that recently enacted indoor smoking bans in public areas are associated with a 17 percent overall reduction in the number of children visiting emergency departments with asthma complaints.

    A study conducted by Brown University released on Dec.26 found that metropolitan areas that recently enacted indoor smoking bans in public areas are associated with a 17 percent overall reduction in the number of children visiting emergency departments with asthma complaints.

    The law would mandate that every lease or other rental agreement for the occupancy of a unit in a multi-unit residence, entered into, renewed or continued month-to-month, would include a provision indicating that secondhand smoke shall be considered a nuisance which shall be grounds for termination of the lease or rental agreement.

    The legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston), Camille F.J. Vella-Wilkinson (D-Dist. 21, Warwick), David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston) and Patricia Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

    CDC-secondhand-smoke

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