The 6 Steps to Success for Smoke-Free Housing

Go Smoke-Free in 6 Steps

Step 1: Gauging Resident Readiness

One way to help to better determine the type of policy that will work best for your property and residents is to conduct a survey. Keep in mind when conducting a survey:

  • Not all households with smokers allow smoking in the home
  • Some non-smokers may allow guests to smoke in their home
  • Can help determine areas to be covered in the policy
Sending the survey out with a little information on why you are doing the survey will help residents be aware that you are considering a smoke-free policy and will also bring in comments and concerns they have as well. These are all important when it comes to the next step, drafting a policy.
Download Sample Tenant Surveys Go to Next Step

Step 2: Draft a Policy

By now you should have a clear idea of what you want your smoke-free policy to include but keep in mind the questions below to ensure you don’t miss anything. There is also an example policy in our Resources.

Who will the rule apply to?

In addition to residents, smoking should not be allowed by any resident tenant, or guest on the property where the rule is in effect. This would include all staff as well as any outside vendors that may come to the property.

What is smoking?

“Smoking” should be defined broadly to ensure the policy is effective. You may define smoking as, inhaling, exhaling, breathing, or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, or other tobacco product or similar lighted or heated product in any manner or in any form. This definition would include all e-cigarettes and other Electronic nicotine delivery devices (ENDS). Be sure to also define other key terms to ensure everyone has the same understanding.

When will it go into effect?

Determine when the rule will become effective and include the date or timeframe in the rule.

Where is smoking restricted?

Clearly indicate which areas are designated smoke-free. This could include common areas and individual units, indoors and out. You may define individual unit to include decks, patios, balconies, and other exclusive use outdoor areas attached to the unit.

How will it be enforced?

This should include who is in charge of ensuring compliance and the consequences for an infraction. The best way to address this is to look at other policies your property might have such as a pet policy. A smoke-free policy should be looked at no differently.

Other Items

Also consider including all tobacco products including E-cigarettes and ENDS products. This will make it easier to enforce and keep residents safe from these harmful products.

Download Sample Lease Addenda Go to Next Step

Step 3: Set a Timeline for Change

It is important that you notify the residents of the changes and give them enough time to prepare or even quit using tobacco products if they want. Be willing to set up meetings with residents to discuss the reasoning for going smoke-free as well as what that will mean to them.

Lease Addendum

  • Will there be designated smoking areas?
  • Making sure all guests are informed
  • Making sure that all vendors are informed
  • Any maintenance staff or cleaning crews that are third party
  • Any delivery vendors (appliances, meals on wheels, etc)
  • Any healthcare workers (home health groups)
  • Any religious groups that may visit residents

The following are a few examples of some timelines that you can use depending on the type of policy you draft. Please feel free to reach out to Smoke-free Housing Indiana for assistance with any steps in this process.
Below are two different timeline strategies, the 60 Day Notice Timeline and the Phase In Timeline

60 Day Notice Timeline

(policy is effective after 60-day notice is given)

Days 1-30

Survey Residents

  • Survey residents about their experience with secondhand smoke exposure in the building and their interest in living in a smoke-free building. View our sample survey in Resources.
  • Contact Smoke-free Housing Indiana to discuss the results and assist with policy options.

Days 31-60

Decide Policy Details

  • Decide policy details to be included in the Smoke-free Lease Addendum. View our sample lease agreement in Resources.
  • Consult with Smoke-free Housing Indiana to make sure the policy covers everything and fits the needs of your property.

Days 61-90

Notify Residents

  • Begin implementing policy with new residents by having them sign a lease addendum as they move in.
  • Notify existing residents of policy change through letters and flyers. Inform them that the policy change will begin in a specific month.
  • Offer cessation options to those residents who wish to quit. View our quitting and cessation options in Resources.

Days 91- 120

Existing Residents Begin to Sign on to Policy

  • Invite Smoke-free Housing Indiana to present to residents regarding the policy change.
  • Send a reminder notice to residents, if necessary.
  • Ask existing residents to sign the lease addendum by the 1st of the specified month.
  • Order smoke-free signs View our sign samples in Resources.

Days 121- 150

Policy Goes Into Effect

  • Post Smoke-free signs around property
  • List the building as smoke-free in any advertisements or rental publications
  • Host a smoke-free celebration or policy recognition event

Phase In Timeline

(policy becomes effective with lease renewals/lease signings)

Days 1-30

Survey Residents

  • Survey residents about their experience with secondhand smoke exposure in the building and their interest in living in a smoke-free building. View our sample survey in Resources.
  • Contact Smoke-free Housing Indiana to discuss the results and assist with policy options.

Days 31-60

Decide Policy Details

  • Decide policy details to be included in the Smoke-free Lease Addendum. View our sample lease agreement in Resources.
  • Consult with Smoke-free Housing Indiana to make sure the policy covers everything and fits the needs of your property.

Days 61-90

Notify Residents

  • Begin implementing the policy with new residents by having them sign a lease addendum as they move in.
  • Notify existing residents of policy change through letters and flyers. Inform them that the policy change will happen during lease renewals beginning in a specified month.
  • Create incentives to encourage existing residents to sign the lease addendum early.
  • Offer cessation options to those residents who wish to quit. View our quitting and cessation options in Resources.

Days 91-120

Existing Residents Begin to Sign on to Policy

  • Invite Smoke-free Housing Indiana to present to residents regarding the policy change.
  • Send a reminder notice to residents, if necessary.
  • Order smoke-free signs View our sign samples in Resources.

Days 121-150

Policy Goes Into Effect

  • Residents who renew their lease beginning in the specified month sign the Smoke-free Lease Addendum
  • Post Smoke-free signs around property
  • List the building as smoke-free in any advertisements or rental publications
  • Host a smoke-free celebration or policy recognition event

Days 151- 365

Building Becomes Completely Smoke-free

  • Residents sign the Smoke-free Lease Addendum as they renew their lease
  • Assess how many residents still need to sign the lease addendum. (If residents voluntarily signed it early then the building will be smoke-free sooner than expected.)
  • All residents should be renting under the smoke-free policy by the end of the specified month.
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Step 4: Inform Residents

There are many reasons for multi-family housing to go smoke-free and informing your residents of the reasons you made the decision are important. Earlier we provided some reasons to go smoke-free. Feel free to share that information with your residents so they understand why this policy is being put into place. Also, consider holding a complex-wide meeting to discuss the changes and address any questions that residents may have on the policy change. The Resources page contains additional information regarding cessation resources for those who are considering quitting.

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Step 5: Promote Policy

Make sure notices of the smoke-free policy are posted in public places for residents to see.

  • Post signs on the grounds so visitors are aware that changes are being made.
  • Provide cessation resources to residents that use tobacco.
  • Be sure to advertise as a smoke-free complex, including your website and any renters guides or publications, so future residents are aware that it is a smoke-free property.
  • Let Smoke-free Housing Indiana know so that we can add you to our database of smoke-free properties across the state.
Go to Next Step

Step 6: Implementation & Enforcement

Implementation

Implementing a smoke-free policy is very simple. Once you have decided on the date it will be effective it is important to make sure residents are aware of the new policy and the guidelines for making sure they adhere to the new rules. This can be done in various ways depending on how your residents usually receive information from you.

  • Flyers in common areas
  • Notices to each unit
  • Notices included in rent statements
  • Set up a meeting to discuss the policy
  • Present the decision to adopt a smoke-free policy and the primary reasons.
  • Share information on secondhand smoke health effects.
  • Provide the survey results.
  • Introduce and explain each item in the smoke-free policy.
  • Inform residents of the implementation plan and anticipated timeline.
  • Explain the cessation resources that will be available.
  • Open the meeting up for comments and questions.
  • Train your staff to go through the proper procedures if they observe a violation as well as discuss ways to address questions or concerns about the policy that residents or other vendors may ask them. See our Resident’s FAQ Resource.

Enforcement

Smoke-free policies are largely self-enforcing just like any other policies you may have for residents. If residents complain, it is important to take down the complaint and make sure it is addressed with that resident in a timely manner. Having a consistent response to violations will make sure current and future residents as well as staff understand that this policy is clear and being handled just like any other policy would be. Enforcement becomes more difficult if you decide to grandfather people, because the other residents will not know who if grandfathered and who is not.

Tips to follow (may change depending on your policy)

  • Start with a verbal meeting with the resident who is violating the policy. A resident complaint may prompt a “knock and talk”. The resident does not have to answer the door, nor do they have to let you in, but if the door opens, it is an opportunity to have a friendly talk about the no-smoking policy. Document the visit and whether or not you smelled smoke inside the unit.
  • Follow-up the visit with a letter acknowledging the conversation and the outcome. See our sample of a friendly warning letter in our Resources.
  • If the problem repeats, send a First Written Violation letter to the resident. See our sample of a first written violation letter in our Resources.
  • Depending on the circumstances, another repeat violation may result in a final written violation letter.
  • If the violation persists, you can issue a termination notice.
  • If the situation is remedied by the resident to avoid eviction but the smoking problem begins again depending on your policy they can be immediately terminated or served an eviction notice if another violation is noted within a certain time frame. (refer to your policy for more detail)