Duluth's YWCA Spirit Valley site begings year-long process of going smoke free

By KBJR News 1

August 18, 2014 Updated Aug 18, 2014 at 8:48 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- The northeastern Minnesota branch of the American Lung Association says there's a growing residential demand in Duluth, and across the state, to go smoke–free in homes and apartment complexes.

The YWCA's Spirit Valley housing site is one of those locations that, on Monday, and with the help of the ALA, kicked off its timeline for its tenants to eventually go smoke–free.

"We really work with them to come up with a timeline that's specific to their building, their complex," said ALA program manager Rachel Cady Loeffler–Kemp, "and then we go from there as really a supportive role—making sure they have signage, making sure that we're asking the right questions."

Loeffler–Kemp says, from start to finish, continuous education on the health and safety risks, associated with smoking, takes center stage in implementing a smoke–free policy.

That includes educating tenants on second–hand smoke.

"So understanding that there's no safe level, means you have to have some sort of policy in place," said Loeffler–Kemp.

Part of that smoke–free timeline began Monday at the YWCA, with the removal of this garden as a designated smoking area, where organizers say instead of butts on the ground, they'll now find budding flowers."

"And then within the next few months, you'll see that totally eradicated as well, " said Christyna Bodenhamer, who manages the Young Mom's Program at the Spirit Valley site, "and so, the entire property will be smoke free."

Bodenhamer works with young mothers to connect them with schooling, job opportunities, and child care. Bodenhamer says a recent tax increase on tobacco in Minnesota has helped to curb some habits.

"But it doesn't seem to really be curbing the fact that people will always find another method," said Bodenhamer, "for instance, the e–cigarettes, which are also quite spendy."

Bodenhamer says some of her young parents even skipped the traditional route for smoking, and started with e–cigs.

"And I think that has brought us back to really getting back to the basics, and educating people on the harms of tobacco and nicotine products," said Loeffler–Kemp, "including e–cigarettes."

...education that organizers hope lingers long after the smoke has cleared.

A Center for Disease Control study recently found that the use of e–cigs among middle and high school students more than doubled between 2011 and 2012.

Billy Wagness
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