By The Department of Health and Human Services
Tobacco Prevention and Control
Enforcing a smoke-free policy may seem like a daunting task, but with clear communication and implementation, you will find that offering safer, healthier housing is beneficial to your investments and residents.
Use the steps below to get started, and visit TobaccoFreeUtah.org for more information.
Step 1: Learn Why Smoke-free Is the Best Choice
Smoke-free policies have been enforced in public housing authorities for over four years. The U.S. Department of House and Urban Development gave all public housing authorities the notice to comply to a smoke-free policy by July 30, 2018.
While this rule covers public housing units, it is also strongly encouraged that excluded properties enact a smoke-free policy and, in Utah, that these properties include the use of electronic cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices in their smoke-free policy.
Secondhand smoke from just a few smokers can permeate the air for all residents. Properties that allow smoking put nonsmoking residents at risk to secondhand smoke exposure, which is commonly linked to heart disease, lung cancer and stroke. Smoking also has costly effects on property maintenance and fire safety. The safest, most cost-effective solution for all is a comprehensive no-smoking policy.
Step 2: Connect with Local Partners
Implementing change is easier with support. Contact your local Tobacco-Free Community Partnership program to learn how it can support you and your residents during the process.
You can also contact your local health department to ask for help learning local laws about smoke-free policies, how it protects your residents, and even receive resources on how to help residents who are looking to quit smoking.
Step 3: Inform Your Residents
Make sure to: communicate the policy change; why it is being implemented; and when it will be taking effect. Give residents several months’ notice and share the news in resident newsletters, bulletin boards, emails, and even hold an informational meeting. This can help reduce opposition and increase support from your residents.
A smoke-free policy doesn’t mean residents have to quit smoking; although, many may want to try. Provide resources on how they can quit, including free and confidential tools from waytoquit.org.
Make a Plan
First things first. Set a date! Setting a smoke-free policy start date allows both residents and staff to prepare. Train your staff on how you’d like the policy to be enforced, including how violations and complaints will be handled.
Most smoke-free policies are implemented through a lease addendum, which residents will sign during recertification or renewal.
Step 4: Implement Your Smoke-Free Policy
Have your current residents sign the new lease addendum and make sure your staff, visiting property members, contractors, and any service providers know the new rules.
Make sure to clearly mark that your buildings are smoke-free and mark the designated outdoor smoking areas if they pertain to your policy. Be clear about the rules and check to make sure residents are following the new policy.
Step 5: Share the News
Work with local media to share that your property has gone smoke-free. Update your website to ensure it highlights that you have a smoke-free policy.
And finally, celebrate your hard work and what going smoke-free means for your residents! Consider hosting a small event with treats and information on the benefits your housing offers. After all, providing safe housing that prioritizes residents’ health through measures like smoke-free policies is something everyone can enjoy.