For Public Health Advocates

Smokefree multi-unit housing policies reduce the burden of respiratory diseases and protect residents, employees and communities from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. To encourage adoption of smokefree multi-unit housing policies, public health advocates can take several steps including:

  • Collecting data on local smokefree multi-unit housing policies. Health and human service departments, voluntary public health organizations, tenant associations, and other organizations should survey multi-unit housing owners and property managers to assess the availability of smokefree housing and the types of policies that are currently in place.
  • Educating and polling residents about smokefree policies and tenant rights. Building tenant support is essential since multiunit housing residents will be directly affected by the new policies. Smokefree multi-unit housing advocates should survey residents about their preferences for smokefree policies and provide information about the effects of secondhand smoke. All tenants, especially those with lung disease (such as COPD, asthma, allergies), should be informed of their rights including provisions for reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Educating owners and property managers about the benefits of smokefree policies. While the trend toward smokefree multi-unit housing is encouraging, communicating the benefits of these policies to owners and property managers will help reduce concerns about implementation and enforcement. Findings from tenant surveys, guidelines on policy implementation, and examples of smokefree lease agreements should be included in toolkits provided to multi-unit housing operators.
  • Organizing a smokefree multi-unit housing coalition. Many states and local communities already have coalitions working on passing smokefree laws in public places and workplaces. Creating a subcommittee within an existing organization or establishing a new coalition to focus on multi-unit housing are both viable options. Members of the coalition should represent a broad base of stakeholders and may include residents, representatives from tenant associations, fair housing agencies, community health organizations, health and social welfare agencies, multi-unit housing owners and landlord associations, and local fire departments.
  • Passing ordinances and policies that require smokefree multi-unit housing. Advocates and policymakers can work together to ensure that all multi-unit housing buildings are smokefree within a jurisdiction. These efforts can include advocacy and legislation at the local, state and federal level. HUD can continue to show leadership in this area by moving beyond voluntary guidelines and requiring all federally funded public housing to be smokefree.

Learn more by taking the American Lung Association online course! To access the course, please email for a username and password. Once you have a username and password, you can start the course by clicking here. The resources used throughout the course are collected in the “Advocates’ Toolbox.” If you’d like to download the entire Toolbox now, click here. The contents are organized by the order in which they are presented.

Download Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing: Bringing Healthy Air Home

Visit the Smokefree Cloud for more resources!

Tobacco Control Legal Consortium Fact Sheets

Public Housing Resources

Other Resources

Source: Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing: Bringing Healthy Air Home

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