Editor's note: This is a reprint of a press release distributed by Carlyle Towers and provided to NVAR by an officer of the Carlyle Towers board of directors.
RESIDENTS AT CARLYLE TOWERS, a luxury Alexandria condominium, have approved a bylaws amendment that prohibits smoking in the 549-unit campus. Cigarette smoking and vaping is now banned in individual homes, common areas such as hallways and lobbies, and the outdoor grounds.
This may be the largest condominium in Alexandria to institute a post-construction smoking ban, according to General Manager Tamika Richardson. Typically, new residential buildings, whether condominiums or rental units, mandate a smoke-free environment, she explained, but implementing a smoking ban in an existing community is a challenging undertaking. “A change to our bylaws requires ratification by a super-majority of owners.” That meant that a minimum of 371 of the 549 unit owners had to ratify the change.
“A smoke-free environment means our co-owners and future residents will enjoy health and safety benefits, and this may make the property more attractive to buyers,” she added. In multi-unit housing, secondhand smoke can migrate through open windows or balconies, doorways, ventilation systems, or plumbing vents, fostering nuisance complaints from neighbors.
Approval of the bylaw amendment was the culmination of a nine-month campaign led by Carlyle Towers board members, which also included resident education, discussion at town meetings, and a “get-out- the vote” effort from a team of co-owner volunteers. The ratification process culminated in a five-week voting period, with almost 75% approval, and only 20 no votes, she added.
A small number of current smokers are grandfathered under the ban, Richardson said, but new smokers cannot join that group. The smoking prohibition applies to residents, guests, and staff and contractors working in the building or grounds. In town hall meetings held to discuss the ban, residents expressed concerns about the health issues associated with second-hand smoke, uncertainties about the safety of electronic cigarettes, and the stench of cannabis smoke. These were all likely factors in the approval of the ban, Richardson said.
According to figures provided by the Virginia Tobacco Control program, the national smoking rate is 17% of adults, while Alexandria’s is 14%. Richardson estimated that the number of current smokers in the community is much lower, approximately 4% total. In surveys and public meetings, a majority of commenters felt that offering a grandfathering provision to these smokers offered fairness, she said. She added that the implementation of the ban strengthens efforts to mitigate any effects from their smoking.