Tobacco smoke is a well-known trigger of asthma attacks. Reducing exposure to smoke can aid in relieving asthma symptoms. U.S. health data from 1999 to 2006 shows that there was a 33 percent decline in symptoms among kids who were not exposed to smoke. Unfortunately, even when no one in a family smokes, children are vulnerable to second-hand smoke from neighbors who light up. Smoke can seep through walls and shared ventilation systems in multi-unit dwellings. In fact, children living in apartments have more cotinine in their blood, a marker of tobacco exposure, than kids raised in smoke-free, detached homes. Cotinine is a byproduct of tobacco that can initiate detrimental physiologic and cognitive changes in children at increased levels.

One study published in PEDIATRICS, analyzing data from a survey of about 5,000 children between the ages of six and eighteen, showed that children raised in apartments had 45 percent more cotinine in their blood than children in detached homes. A complementary study featured in the same issue of PEDIATRICS revealed that as smoke-free laws get stricter, kids’ asthma symptoms improve. Tougher laws have also been associated with a significant decrease in cotinine levels in children and adolescents. Hopefully these kinds of studies will encourage municipalities to begin banning smoking in multi-unit housing.

Source: Fox News, Dec. 2010, “Study: Kids May Be Exposed to Second-Hand Smoke by Neighbors”


This website has resources to help you plan for, implement, and build support for smoke-free policies for Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and Multifamily federally assisted properties.  HUD strongly encourages Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and all multifamily housing owners/agents to implement smoke-free policies in all their properties.  Furthermore, December 5, 2016, HUD published a final rule for each Public Housing Agency administering low-income, conventional public housing to initiate a smoke-free policy.  The effective date of the Rule is February 3, 2017, and it provides an 18-month implementation period.

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To view Questions and Answers on HUD’s Smoke Free Public Housing Proposed Rule, click here.

Top 5 Reasons to Go Smoke Free In Your Home

  1. Smoke-free buildings are what residents want. 
    Smoke-free buildings are what the overwhelming majority of residents prefer.  A no-smoking policy is not a no-smoker policy; all residents can enjoy smoke-free housing. 

  2. Health Smoke-free buildings are healthier buildings. 
    Secondhand smoke exposure is the leading cause of preventable death in the nation.  There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke– even small amounts cause immediate damage to the body.  A no-smoking policy is the only way to keep smoke from drifting throughout the building.  

  3. Smoke-free buildings save money. 
    Smoked in units cost more to turn due to additional cleaning costs and having to replace carpets before their expected lifespan. Even after spending extra time and money to prepare a unit, lingering odor can still make the unit harder to rent. Over time, the decision to allow smoking can even reduce the long term value of a property.
  4. Smoke-free buildings are safer buildings. 
    Smoking is the third leading cause of preventable fires in apartment complexes in CT.  Fires caused by smoking in apartment units result in more deaths and property damage than any other cause.  A no-smoking policy helps to protect all residents, guests, and staff from preventable fires.
  5. Timing Smoke-free buildings are the future. 
    As people learn more about the dangers of secondhand smoke the support and demand for smoke-free housing continues to grow.  Property managers who allow smoking are facing legal challenges from residents seeking protection from smoke.