LA CROSSE, WI -

Many restaurants and workplaces in La Crosse County have been smoke-free for years, but now some apartment buildings are starting to follow suit.

The La Crosse County Health Department is leading the effort to encourage landlords to adopt a smoke-free policy for their multi-unit apartments.

And department officials say it hasn't been difficult to get landlords on board because it's a change their tenants are already asking for.

UW-La Crosse sophomore Kelsie Bolstad said she's thankful to live in a smoke-free apartment building.

"When we found out about it we liked it because we're like, "Ok, it's not going to smell like trash every time you walk into the building," said Bolstad.

Bolstad rents from Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions that recently announced it's adopting a smoke-free policy for its more than 200 campus area rental units.

"It's really a customer driven thing. We want to provide the best quality housing that we can for our customers. Demand is trending toward smoke-free work places, several years ago smoke free restaurants, smoke free bars, so I think the natural progression was smoke-free housing in multi-unit residences," said Three Sixty Real Estate Solutions Director of Operations Jeremy Novak.  

The La Crosse County Health Department said polling data in Wisconsin from 2012 shows 78 percent of people are supportive of smoke-free multi-unit housing.

"In the younger population, that is something that we've noticed. That's why Three Sixty has responded as well. They're finding potential tenants who only want to look at rentals in smoke-free buildings so they're responding to that market," said La Crosse County Health Department health educator Paula Silha.

"Customers are saying this is where it's headed, so let's give them what they want," said Novak.

And Bolstad said with many students like herself looking for a clean apartment, having a smoke-free policy can tip the scales in a landlord's favor.

"I have parents who smoke so its one of those things that I want to go away from that. So it's nice to have a place you can say is smoke free and you can have a clean environment," said Bolstad.

Novak said enforcing the policy may be tough but it is written into the lease.

So if evidence of smoking is found, they'll have legal grounds to confront their tenants.

La Crosse County Health Department officials say since they started working with landlords about a year ago more than twelve have adopted a smoke-free policy.

They say that many more already have the policy in place.