By Jeffery Smith jsmith@the-leader.com

CORNING - Stewart Park Apartments officials are currently considering the possibility of going smoke free.

“That is something that the board is contemplating,” said Wayne Fairbanks, vice president of EDC, which manages the 118-unit affordable housing apartments. “Absolutely we’re looking at it, but a long way from a decision.”

Lorelei Wagner, Steuben County Public Health Education Coordinator, said Public Health was contacted in June by Stewart Park Apartments management about the possibility of going smoke free.

“They contacted us looking for information about cessation for their employees and their residents,” Wagner said. “We provided them with information about succession support and about about STTAC (Southern Tier Tobacco Awareness Coalition) who provide policy support and free signage for anyone who goes smoke free.”

Wagner said Public Health provided EDC with needed resources available if they decided to move forward with the smoke free plan.

“We would try to offer workshops and anything we could do for the tenants if the board decided to go smoke free,” Fairbanks said. “We’re thinking about what is good for the staff and the residents.”

Fairbanks said the research shows second- and third-hand smoke is just as bad for the health of toddlers as first-hand smoke.

“We are considering this for the health, safety and well being it would offer,” Fairbanks said.

If the change is made, no smoking would be allowed in common areas and inside any apartments, Fairbanks said. The rule would apply to all residents, even those who have lived there for years.

EDC said about 75 percent of tenants are current smokers in the 118-unit complex.

Wagner said Public Health may offer cessation class if Stewart Park Apartments decides to go smoke free and there is enough interest among the tenants.

Albany County joined New York City, Suffolk, and Chautauqua counties earlier this year in raising the minimum purchasing age of tobacco from 18 to 21.

In addition, Cattaraugus and Cortland counties are working towards increasing their minimum purchasing age.

Officials said there is strong public health evidence to support that raising the minimum purchasing age of tobacco products will reduce youth access to tobacco.