There are two main groups that can benefit from smokefree multi-unit housing policies: tenants or residents, and owners or property managers. While there is a range of different multi-unit housing arrangements in Florida – from private condominiums and apartment buildings to public housing – implementing a smokefree policy is beneficial to all.
Smokefree housing policies protect residents from secondhand smoke, which is a deadly mix of 7,000 chemicals, hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer.1 Nonsmokers in multi-unit housing may be exposed to secondhand smoke that infiltrates from other units. Tobacco smoke can move along air ducts, through cracks in the walls and floors, through elevator shafts and along plumbing and electrical lines to affect other units.2,3
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to the poisons in secondhand smoke. Yet the main place where young children are exposed to secondhand smoke is at home.4 Among children, secondhand smoke exposure can cause respiratory symptoms including cough, phlegm, wheezing, and breathlessness. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk for ear infections. Children with asthma who are around secondhand smoke have more severe and frequent asthma attacks. A severe asthma attack can put a child’s life in danger.1,4
Not only can smokefree housing protect the health and wellbeing of tenants, it is also a smart financial decision for owners and property managers. Implementing a smokefree policy has economic benefits, including insurance discounts.5 Smokefree policies can also eliminate the need to repair or replace carpeting, floors, fixtures, countertops or appliances damaged by burns or nicotine stains.6,7 It can cost about seven times more to turn-over a unit that has been smoked in, versus a non-smoking unit.8
There is no such thing as a legal “right to smoke.” Residents are entitled to breathe clean, smokefree air at home.
The Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida has identified more than 900 multi-unit properties, more than 114,000 smokefree housing units, and 240 condos in the state that are smokefree.9,10 There is free assistance available to help condo owners, associations and property managers implement smokefree policies.
1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010.
3 Public Health Service, Office of the Surgeon General. Children and secondhand smoke exposure: excerpts from The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: a report of the Surgeon General. 2007.
4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.
5 “Going Smoke-Free A Guide for Landlords.” (2016): n. pag. Make Smoking History. Massachusetts Department of Public Health, June 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2016. http://makesmokinghistory.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/landlord_Guide.pdf.
8 Case for Smoke-Free Housing by Colorado GASP.” My Smoke-Free Housing. Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution, n.d. Web. 17 June 2016. http://mysmokefreehousing.org/landlordpresentation.html.