Smokefree Policies in Multi-Unit Housing

Find information on what to do if you are being exposed to secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing and how to enforce smokefree policies.

Secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health threats to children, adults and pets. For residents of multi-unit housing (e.g., apartment buildings and condominiums), secondhand smoke, including secondhand tobacco smoke, secondhand cannabis smoke and secondhand e-cigarette aerosol 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. In addition, many renters are persons with lower incomes and use tobacco at disproportionate rates. They deserve healthy indoor air in their housing that promotes their well-being and that will also make it easier to try to quit tobacco use.

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 thousands of dollars in costs to turnover units and significantly reduces fire risk for buildings. Note that solutions short of making the entire building smokefree such separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air or ventilation systems cannot eliminate exposure to the toxins in secondhand smoke, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)'s rule that made 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 when it was implemented. The American Lung Association is a strong supporter of HUD's smokefree housing rule and pushed for its passage for over a decade.

Is Secondhand Smoke Infiltrating Your Apartment or Condominium?

Secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit dwellings such as apartments and condominiums is unfortunately both a common problem and also dangerous for you and your family. Learn the steps to take to protect you and your family from secondhand smoke exposure.
View the Steps

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

The Lung Association’s Smokefree Policies in Multi-Unit Housing: Steps for Success Online Course is no longer available. 

However, the resources used in the course are still available: Download the entire toolbox now.

Smokefree Public Housing Projects

The American Lung Association also conducted several projects during the implementation of HUD’s smokefree housing rule:

Interested in Going Tobacco-Free?

The American Lung Association has been helping people quit and disengage from smoking for over 40 years and has helped one million people quit for good. Learn more about our Freedom From Smoking® program, ranked one of the most effective programs in the country and the options available to you.

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Page last updated: May 2, 2024

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