Some leaders in a blue-collar Nebraska suburb that’s home to Offutt Air Force Base are borrowing an idea from a vastly more liberal state: Ban apartment renters from smoking cigarettes and e-cigarettes inside.
The proposal, which would be one of the few such restrictions outside of California and is similar to federal rules for public housing across the U.S., isn’t meant to protect the health of the city’s 50,000 residents, but instead to prevent fires.
Councilman Don Preister proposed the ban, which wouldn’t affect duplexes and single-family homes, in August after cigarette smoking at a single Bellevue apartment complex led to two fires a month earlier. The second fire destroyed the building, displacing dozens of people, and injured four, including a firefighter.
“We had firefighters in the building … when the floor started giving way,” Preister said. “Had they not evacuated, we could have lost lives in the fire. I want to prevent that going forward.”