Secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health threats to children and adults. For residents of multi-unit housing (e.g., apartment buildings and condominiums), secondhand smoke can be a major concern. It can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems.
Public and private multi-unit housing properties across the country have moved to solve this problem by making their housing, including individual units, smokefree. This move not only protects residents and staff from exposure to secondhand smoke, but also saves properties money on costs to turnover units and significantly reduces fire risk for buildings.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)'s rule that will make all public housing smokefree took effect July 30, 2018. This rule protected close to two million public housing residents, including 760,000 children, from exposure to secondhand smoke. The American Lung Association was a strong supporter of HUD's smokefree housing rule and pushed for its passage for over a decade.
Tools and Resources
The American Lung Association has several tools and resources on smokefree housing:
- Smokefree Policies in Multi-Unit Housing: Steps for Success Online Course (more information below)
- Factsheet for Multi-Unit Housing Tenants Being Exposed to Secondhand Smoke
- Factsheet for Property Managers on Effective Enforcement of Smokefree Policies in Multi-Unit Housing
- Materials on the importance of tobacco cessation coverage in state Medicaid programs for smokefree housing efforts
- Videos and success stories from communities that have previously worked to make multi-unit housing smokefree
The American Lung Association also conducted several projects in support of HUD’s smokefree housing rule:
- Smoking Cessation for Low-Income Housing Residents Initiative
- Smokefree Public Housing Initiative
- Smokefree at Home: Implementing Smokefree Policies at HUD Properties
Smokefree Policies in Multi-Unit Housing: Steps for Success Online Course
The American Lung Association worked with experts around the United States to develop this online curriculum on how to implement a smokefree policy in multi-unit housing properties like apartments and condominiums.
By taking this course, participants will have the information and tools to:
- Communicate the health and economic impact of secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing.
- Engage with building managers, property owners, policymakers, residents and other stakeholders to adopt smokefree multi-unit housing policies.
- Plan and implement a successful smokefree multi-unit housing policy.
- Identify resident rights and responsibilities, as well as options for providing services to help smokers quit.
Page last updated: April 5, 2021