ADAMS -- The 98-unit Millhouses of Adams apartment complex on Commercial Street has joined a growing movement in Berkshire County by going "smoke-free."
Millhouses management worked with the Berkshire Area Health Education Center's Tobacco-Free Community Partnership over several months to transition into a smokeless environment, which begins on July 1, while trying to respect the needs of those who already smoke, according to Millhouses Regional Manager Bonnie Senecal.
"We've wanted to do it," Senecal said. "It's been a few years we kind of thought about it, but [we thought] it could never happen. But people in the area started doing it and we jumped on the bandwagon."
The Millhouses, owned by Newton-based Wingate Companies, consists of about one-third family and two-thirds senior residents.
It joins a number of other local complexes in banning the indoor use of tobacco, including the North Adams Housing Authority and St. Joseph's Court in North Adams, as well as the Greylock Apartments and Barrett House in Adams, according to Joan Rubel, director of public health initiatives at the Tobacco-Free Community Partnership.
With the U.S. Surgeon General warning that no amount of second-hand smoke exposure is healthy, the Tobacco-Free Community Partnership has used funding through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health's Smoke-Free Housing Project program to help buildings in Adams and North Adams make the switch.
Earlier this year, Senecal and Millhouses staff surveyed residents on their thoughts about switching to a smoke-free environment. After receiving positive feedback, management decided to make the switch, according to a press release from the Tobacco-Free Community Partnership.
"[Reaction] was positive overall," Senecal said. "Of course, there were a few tenants that were negative about it, but even a lot of the smokers supported it."
Senecal estimates that about 15 percent of the Millhouses residents are smokers. But so far the transition has been smooth she said, and many smokers have already implemented the no-inside smoking rule on their own.
According to the Surgeon General, second-hand smoke exposure can cause cancer, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and heart disease. The Tobacco-Free Community Partnership points out that it's impossible to contain cigarette smoke to one unit in a multi-unit complex such as the Millhouses.
Both in Adams and throughout North County, the concept of a tobacco-free environment is catching on.
"Throughout the region there's been a fair amount of this interest," Rubel said. "The basic idea is to create healthier indoor air."