Local Public Health Agencies
Denver Public Health Chronic Disease Tobacco Team provides technical assistance for local public health agencies across Colorado working on smoke-free multiunit housing. The information below will guide you with information and resources to assist housing providers with the implementation of a smoke-free policy.
Health and Economic Benefits:
There are substantial health and economic benefits that come with implementing a smoke-free policy at any of your multiunit housing properties. It is important to include these when educating residents and housing providers. Housing providers are interested in protecting their investment, as well as employee and resident health; providing them with the knowledge and language to answer resident questions and justify the policy is just one key to successful enforcement.
- Decrease Turnover and insurance costs.
- Reduce fire risk.
- Reduce legal liability and administrative burden from secondhand smoke exposure.
- Reduce energy costs.
- Attract residents: One survey found that 90% of respondents, including current smokers, support no-smoking policies and say that living in a no-smoking building is important when choosing a place to live.
Read the American Lung Association "Impacts of Smoke-Free Housing Policies" Report.
- Smoking is responsible for nearly one in five deaths in the United States.
- Tobacco-related deaths are the most preventable cause of premature death and disability in our society.
- The only FDA product that "when used as directed" can kill you.
Secondhand Smoke or Environmental Tobacco Smoke:
- Secondhand smoke is smoke in the environment that is inhaled passively or involuntarily by someone is not smoking.
- Also known as Environmental Tobacco Smoke or "ETS".
- There is NO safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
- There is no ventilation or filtering system that will remove secondhand smoke from the air.
- According to the surgeon general:
- "Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes respiratory symptoms and slows lung growth in their children".
- "Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer".
- In adults who have never smoked, secondhand smoke can cause heart disease and lung cancer.
- Consists of gases and small particles in cigarette smoke that are deposited on every surface they come in contact with.
- Consists of ingredients that react to form carcinogens and toxins that can stay on surfaces indefinitely. A 2002 study found that these toxic brews can then re-emit back into the air and recombine to form harmful compounds that remain at high levels long after smoking has stopped occurring.
- Exposure of thirdhand smoke can occur through the skin, or by breathing or ingesting long after smoke has been cleared out of the room.
- Children who climb on furniture, crawl and play on floors, may be especially susceptible to thirdhand smoke.
Smoke-Free Housing Policy Change Process:
"Where do I even start?" is a question lots of housing providers may have. You may have questions about whether your agency, staff members and residents are ready for such a move. It can be helpful to see the stages of policy change, some characteristics of those stages, and what next steps can be taken.
The figure below presents activities that can be conducted to move landlords along the stages of change, toward implementing and maintaining smoke-free housing. The five stages of change are:
Each stage of change is described along with suggested activities.
In the pre-contemplation stage, landlords may have never thought about smoke-free housing, have not heard that smoke-free housing is a good idea and/or may not know of anyone else with a smoke-free policy. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the pre-contemplation stage can include the following:
- Identify and meet with agencies who communicate with local landlords.
- Place articles in landlord trade newsletters, and exhibit at trade shows.
- Pursue positive news coverage for properties who have adopted 'no smoking' rules.
- Meet with landlords, and get them thinking about their process. Ask: "Did you know?", and share success stories and information.
- Offer assistance.
In the contemplation stage, landlords may be interested, but not quite ready to change They may be afraid to take action, or they do not know how to go about implementing a policy. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the contemplation stage can include the following:
- Be a resource for landlords who may need help.
- Meet with landlords, and get them thinking about their process. Ask them to spell out the pros and cons of smoke-free housing, and think about where they are on a scale of 1 - 10. Ask: "What will help move you to the next level?"
- Share stories (preferably local) of companies who have successfully implemented smoke-free policies Include statistics of money saved, and the long-term benefits.
- Be sure to follow up, periodically, and offer assistance
In the preparation stage, landlords are usually looking to adopt a policy soon. They are talking about smoke-free policies within the company and talking to other landlords who have policies in place. They may be conducting a tenant survey, or accessing available tools. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the preparation stage can include the following:
- Stay up-to-date with tools and resources available on websites such as, mysmokefreehousing.org.
- Provide sample lease language, sample tenant letters and enforcement tools. Contact our team for sample materials.
- Offer to help staff conduct resident meetings to discuss the 'no smoking' rule.
- Offer to help landlords conduct a tenant survey.
In the action stage, landlords are drafting language for leases, addendums and/or house rules. They can begin informing tenants and staff about the new rules/changes. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the action stage can include the following:
- Share enforcement tools with landlords.
- Help landlords with local news coverage, and other positive publicity. Be creative!
- Encourage landlords to put "smoke-free" in ads.
- Share ideas and quotes.
In the maintenance stage, landlords are communicating and enforcing the rule with tenants, putting "smoke-free" in ads as a amenity and collecting positive feedback about reduced costs, the increased number of applicants and resident stories. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the action stage can include the following:
- Continue to encourage landlords to include "smoke-free" language in ads and signage.
- Follow up to check in on how things are going.
- Find and meet with local landlords who have adopted smoke-free policies. Collect quotes and suggestions, and encourage them to share stories of their experience with others.
- Help generate positive publicity by assisting landlords with articles and stories for local housing newsletters that highlight their successful implementation.
This figure was adapted with permission, from material developed by Health In Sight LLC. Used with permission from Oregon Health Authority - Public Health Division.