Seward Towers Go Smoke Free – Press Release

WellShare International

122 West Franklin Ave

Suite 510

Minneapolis, MN 55404

Phone: 612-230-3255




October 5, 2015


Media Contact:

Seward Towers East – Ahmed Abdulahi, CommonBond, 612-339-1711

Seward Towers West – Hamdia Dawid, CommonBond, 612-333-7472


Seward Towers Go Smoke Free

Nearly 1,000 Seward neighborhood residents now protected from secondhand smoke


MINNEAPOLIS – Beginning October 1, the smoking of cigarettes and other lighted tobacco products will not be allowed in any indoor units or common areas of Seward Towers. Smoking will only be allowed in designated outdoors smoking areas.

Tobacco use in the East African community is increasingly a problem, with a 2009 study by Guliani, K. et al. showing nearly one in four Somali adults smoke, a much higher rate than the general population.

CommonBond, the Midwest’s largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing, is taking steps to make its family housing sites smoke free, protecting East African community residents. Almost 1,000 residents, living in 640 units, will be protected from secondhand smoke thanks to CommonBond’s Seward Tower East and West buildings going smoke free next month.

“Enforcing a smoke-free policy for family sites like Seward Tower East and West ensures a safe and healthy living community for all their residents,” said Swetha Nayak, Program Manager for the East African Smoke-Free Program at WellShare International. “As these two buildings have a significant East African refugee population, it is imperative that we educate them on the harms of tobacco and secondhand smoke, and provide an arena for healthy decisions. What CommonBond is doing is fantastic and a step in the right direction.”

The decision to go smoke free was prompted from requests by residents who were unhappy with secondhand smoke drifting into their apartments. CommonBond conducted resident surveys to gauge support for a smoke-free policy. Nearly all residents favored this move.

“CommonBond decided to go smoke-free at our Seward Tower East and West properties as a natural progression of our goal to provide a smoke free environment in our senior properties,” said Lisa Wilcox-Erhardt, Executive Vice President of Housing & Services. “Our residents are pleased to see us making this transition and we are proud to provide a healthier living environment for them, their guests, and CommonBond staff in the coming years.”

In addition to residents, a number of other groups were involved in aiding the process and educating stakeholders, including the Minnesota Department of Health, WellShare International, and City of Minneapolis Health Department and Live Smoke Free, a nonprofit program that promotes smoke-free living in Minnesota.

“This is a tremendous success in protecting residents, especially vulnerable populations, from secondhand smoke, thirdhand smoke, and the risk of smoking-related fires,” said Pa Yiar Khang, the Tobacco Free Communities Community Specialist & Grant Manager at the Minnesota Department of Health. “This change has raised awareness about the harms of secondhand smoke. Now, even more community members are paying attention to this issue and want to live in smoke-free housing.”


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