BUILD SUCCESS BY increasing awareness of the benefits of smoke-free housing and the negative effects of secondhand smoke.
The evidence shows that smoke-free policies work. Properties with smoke-free policies have less secondhand smoke, even if they have not reached 100% compliance. While it has not been easy for all who have adopted a smoke-free policy, public housing authorities consistently are positive about the results.
More than one-third of adult public housing residents in the US smoke—totaling approximately 400,000 smokers, putting other residents and staff at risk of negative health effects.
The Building Success research team conducted three studies that examined the opinions and experiences of voluntary adopters of smoke-free housing policies, and identified key approaches that supported implementation efforts.
The purpose of the Building Success website is to share practical ideas and insights from housing providers and residents who went smoke-free, in order to support implementation of smoke-free policies.
Smoke-free policies protect the health of residents and staff by preventing exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes. Smoke-free policies do not require smokers to stop smoking, but they cannot smoke inside or within 25 feet of buildings.
“Be open-minded. It can be difficult, it can be challenging, it can be time-consuming. But at the end of the day you’ll find it’s a healthier community. Overall, it’s going to be a positive experience. It never stops, you’re always letting people know about the policy, you’re constantly chasing violations, but it’s worth it”
– Property Manager
Secondhand smoke is unhealthy
Smoke travels from smokers’ units into non-smokers’ units. This is called “secondhand smoke.”
- There is no way to prevent secondhand smoke from traveling between units.
- Smoke outside a building can travel into units through windows and vents.
Breathing any amount of secondhand smoke is unhealthy (US Surgeon General Report). Many serious health problems can be caused by secondhand smoke:
- Stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease in adults
- Asthma, respiratory infections, and ear problems in children
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in young children
- Worsened health conditions for seniors and people with disabilities
Benefits of smoke-free housing
Reducing exposure to secondhand smoke helps protect the health of everyone, especially children and the elderly. In addition:
- Making smoking less convenient sometimes provides a motivation for smokers to cut down or quit completely.
- Children who grow up in a smoke-free environment are less likely to start smoking.
Other benefits of smoke-free housing include:
- Less litter, improved property appearance, and more enjoyable public spaces
- Reduced risk of fire
Download Why smoke-free? as a PDF