Why Secondhand Smoke Is Bad for Business

Why Secondhand Smoke Is Bad for Business as well as tenant smoking

Secondhand smoke is dangerous for your tenants

Secondhand smoke isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a significant danger to people’s health and well-being. It contains over 4,000 chemicals and can cause cancer, heart disease, and many other health problems (4). In fact, secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. An estimated 46,000 Americans die prematurely each year from heart disease caused by secondhand smoke (4).

Secondhand smoke puts tenants in multiunit housing at risk due to their shared proximity to neighbors. Smoke from one unit can seep through air ducts and cracks, or even travel through a shared ventilation system. Depending on the age of the building, up to 65 percent of the air in a unit can come from other units in the building (8). Even if one tenant decides not to smoke, the decisions of another can put their health in jeopardy.

A staggering 28 million residents who live in multiunit housing are exposed to secondhand smoke in their home or apartment that came from elsewhere in their building (2). Since the dangers of cigarette smoke are widely known, consider the possible repercussions of those exposed to smoke without having made the decision to take that risk for themselves. Even short exposure to secondhand smoke can cause blood platelets to become stickier, damage the lining of blood vessels, and decrease coronary flow velocity reserves, which can potentially lead to a heart attack. Alarmingly, research says there is no safe level of exposure.

Secondhand smoke particularly affects minors. In Utah, 22,100 children live in households where someone smokes inside the home. Children are especially vulnerable to the dangers of this kind of smoke exposure, which can cause ear problems, acute respiratory infections, and wheeze illnesses, which slows their lung growth and makes asthma more severe (4). It’s evident that secondhand smoke isn’t just harmful to health, it’s outright dangerous.

Going Smoke-free Isn’t Only Safe, It’s Smart

There’s no real way to control cigarette smoke in your properties. Despite what you might have heard, commercial air-filter systems and other methods simply don’t work to control secondhand smoke. In 2006, the U.S. surgeon general’s report said that the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke indoors is to stop people from smoking indoors (5). The damage to the property might be temporary, but the health effects can be permanent.

Secondhand smoke is dangerous and the best decision you can make would be to ban smoking on your property. This step is the only means of effectively eliminating the health risks of secondhand smoke (1). Not only will it benefit your tenants, it’s also proven to be good for business.

The numbers don’t lie — people want smokefree housing. Nine out of 10 Utahns say they prefer smokefree housing. That’s in large part because over 90% of Utahns don’t smoke and 93% don’t allow smoking in their home (6). In addition to creating a higher demand for a property, making a property smokefree also leads to a higher appraisal and lower cleaning costs. In fact, property managers spend seven times more, on average, to clean a smoking unit than they do to clean a smokefree unit (7). A smokefree housing policy is the best thing for a tenant’s health, and a property owner’s bottom line.

Go Smokefree Today

Secondhand smoke poses an indelible health threat. It’s dangerous. And unlike cigarette smoking, secondhand smoke exposure puts those at risk who were not able to make the decision for themselves. The dangers are well established, and so are the benefits to property owners and landlords. Make the decision to go smokefree. Find out what steps you can take to make your property a healthier place for all to live. For more information, visit waytoquit.org.


  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2006).The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Washington, D.C.: Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. General. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services.
    American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers. “Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Position Document,” 2010.
  3. 2005 Utah Department of Health. Utah Health Status Survey, 2001–2005. Salt Lake City: Utah Department of Health. Center for Health Data.
  4. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General, 2006.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General,” 2006.
  6. Utah Department of Health. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS). 1999–2010. Salt Lake City: Utah Department of Health. Center for Health Data.
  7. National Center for Healthy Housing Reasons to Explore Smokefree Housing, Fall 2009.
  8. Center for Energy and Environment. “Reduction of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Transfer in Minnesota Multifamily Building Using Air Sealing and Ventilation Treatments,” 2004.

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