Governments & Policy Makers
Smoke-free multi-unit housing is an important policy initiative to address health inequities in underserved communities. Nearly two-thirds of residents of multi-unit housing are minorities, and nearly half of all multi-unit housing residents are low-income or below the poverty level. These policies are not just a luxury for homeowners or people living in single detached homes. Smoke-free multi-unit housing policies ultimately serve to level the playing field, creating safe and healthy environments for renters.
There are 4 Main Types of Policy Options for Local Governments
100% Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing
Smoking is not permitted inside all units, plus a 30-foot buffer zone from all doorways, openings, windows or vents, and all outdoor areas (see below).
Smoke-Free Outdoor Areas
Smoking is not permitted in all outdoor areas including attached patios, balconies, porch or deck, and other outdoor common areas such as pathways, courtyards, outdoor stairs, playgrounds, swimming pools, parking lots, grassy or landscaped areas, cooking areas, and eating areas.
Require landlords to provide all tenants, new and existing, with a comprehensive description of where smoking is or is not allowed on the property. This helps prospective tenants to make informed decisions about where to live but also helps existing tenants reduce their exposure to secondhand smoke by helping them avoid areas where smoking is allowed.
Nuisance laws help protect residents from secondhand smoke by declaring involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke a nuisance. This gives residents a legal remedy to address the drifting secondhand smoke by using nuisance abatement laws to address their exposure.
Public Housing Authority
There are more than 650 Public Housing Authorities (PHA) that have implemented smoke-free policies. PHAs have the discretion to establish smoke-free rules in their city’s plans for subsidized housing. For more information, you can click to download a copy of an informational packet that can provide you with tools and tips on implementing a 100% smoke–free Policy.
Useful Resources and Websites
- HUD Guidebook: Implementing HUD’s Smoke-Free Policy in Public Housing
- Public Health Law Center & American Lung Association: Smoke-Free Multiunit Housing Model Ordinance
- CA Tobacco Control Program: Resources Guide for Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing
- Change Lab Solutions: Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Brochure
- U.S. Laws for 100% Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing
- Public Health Law Center: There is no constitutional right to smoke or toke
- Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights
- American Lung Association
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