Bright Spot: Promoting Smoke-Free Policies in Multi Unit Housing

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

This bright spot was originally published in the 100 Million Healthier Lives Change Library and is brought to you through partnership with 100 Million Healthier Lives and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.


Detailed Description

Health department personnel promote the passage of smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing by owners and managers. They do this by educating managers and tenants about the benefits of smoke-free policies and offering assistance to managers as they undergo the process of going smoke-free.

Expected Outcomes

Smoke free policies in multi-unit housing can:

  • Reduce the number of residential fire deaths
  • Reduce health complications caused by second hand smoke
  • Decrease costs associated with maintaining and rehabbing smoking units
  • Increase the desirability of multi-unit housing in a community

Failing Forward Moments

Lessons learned (from communities having implemented this intervention):

  • Hearing from those who have successfully implemented policies is key
  • Building relationships (in-person and/or over the phone) is very beneficial
  • Sharing the cost savings and legal aspects are critical
  • Small, privately owned units can be more challenging to work with due to fear of cost or fear of losing residents
  • Providing an "incentive" such as free lunch was helpful with participation

Cost Details

As of May 2014, the cost of this intervention is as follows: Cost of flyers to distribute, staff time for community engagement, staff travel, cost of signage is needed but covered by the housing owner/manager. If you hold workshops, you will need printing, folders, resources, etc. For the latest cost details, please contact the promoting Smoke-Free Policies in Multi-Unit Housing program directly. See case studies (located on the resource tab) for cost details from communities that already implemented this EBI.

Key Steps for Implementation

  1. Assess the current policies of multi-unit housing stock in the geographic area covered by interveners.
  2. Find properties that are already smoke-free and determine if manager is willing to be a smoke-free "champion."
  3. Reach out to groups and individual/families that are involved in housing to educate on the benefits of smoke-free housing.
  4. Offer to survey tenants to determine their level of support for smoke-free policies.
  5. Offer to speak to tenant of properties that are going smoke-free on the dangers of secondhand smoke and cessation resources.
  6. Put managers who have questions about implementing smoke-free policies in touch with managers who have already successfully done so. Assist by providing model policies.
  7. Develop a communications plan.
  8. Promote tobacco cessation services (local programs or state Quitline.)
  9. Assess compliance and take necessary steps for enforcement.


  • Housing coalitions
  • Housing management associations
  • Local healthcare providers (to educate on the dangers of tobacco exposure)

Policies, Laws and Regulations

None for private housing; HUD recommends for affordable housing and public housing

Required Staffing (FTEs)


Special Funding

None; however having access to free or low-cost tobacco cessation resources facilitates success

  • Smoke-free housing promotional materials
  • Flyers on the topic of smoke-free housing
  • Timelines for going smoke-free
  • Handout on tobacco cessation resources
  • Door hangers and window clings for residents


Staff must familiarize themselves with field by reading articles and online resources; consulting with the NC TPCB and Legal Specialist 

Types of Staff

Bachelor's degree with experience in community health promotion

Outcome Measures

  • Number of smoke-free policies passed
  • Number of units converted to smoke-free

Process Measures

  • Number of community groups educated
  • Number of housing owners/managers educated
  • Number of tenants educated

 Related Topics

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Clean Air