Smokefree Housing

Secondhand smoke (SHS) is the third leading cause of preventable disease in the U.S. and a leading cause of acute and chronic disease. Secondhand smoke caused by nearby neighbors can have a bad impact on the residents who live in multiunit housing (apartments, condos, etc.).

Secondhand smoke from one unit can seep through air ducts and cracks, or travel through a shared ventilation system and enter into another person's living space. At present the only means of effectively eliminating the health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity.1 There is no risk-free level of exposure to SHS. 2 The home is the main place many children and adults breathe in SHS.

Although residents have adopted voluntary smokefree home rules, they may still be exposed to SHS. It is estimated that 28 million residents who live in multiunit housing, are exposed to SHS in their home or apartment that came from elsewhere in their building like a nearby apartment.3 Therefore, smokefree policies in multiunit housing can protect everyone from being exposed to SHS.

In Utah, 22,100 or 2.8 percent of children (ages 0 –17) live in households where someone smokes inside the home. Of the children who live in rented homes, 5.1% (6,900 children) are exposed to secondhand smoke. Since 2001, the overall number of children exposed to secondhand smoke has decreased by 53%. The percentage of children exposed to secondhand smoke in rented homes decreased from 12.6% in 2001 to 5.1% in 2005. 4

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, DC: Department of Health and Human Services.
2. American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and & Air Conditioning Engineers. “Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Position Document,” 2010.
3. Andrea S. Licht, Brian A. King, Mark J. Travers, Cheryl Rivard, Andrew J. Hyland, “Attitudes, Experiences, and Acceptance of Smokefree Policies Among US Multiunit Housing Residents”, American Journal of Public Health 102, no. 10 (October 1, 2012): pp. 1868-1871. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300717
4. 2005 Utah Department of Health. Utah Health Status Survey, 2001-2005. Salt Lake City: Utah Department of Health. Center for Health Data

The directory is a list of properties that have adopted a smoke free policy.

This section includes useful tools to help building owners and managers with the adoptions of a smokefree policy.

This section includes useful tools that will assist individuals in protecting themselves from secondhand smoke exposure and how to talk to your landlord if you are experiencing problems with secondhand smoke.

A smokefree workplace could save you money and improve the health of your workers.

Housing Search | Smokefree Directory

The following is a listing of properties that provide smokefree environments. While the list provides information on a property’s smoke free status, it does not keep track of vacancies at any particular location.

There are three types of listings in this directory:
• A smokefree property does not allow smoking anywhere on the premises including the buildings, units, balconies/patios, common areas and parking areas.
• A smokefree policy does not allow smoking anywhere inside the building, units. A policy may include balconies/patios.
• A smokefree policy does not allow smoking anywhere in units or buildings and have rules prohibiting smoking within a certain distance (for example 25 feet)

If you have a smoke free property you would like listed in the directory register here.

Property Managers

Secondhand smoke (SHS) caused by neighbors can be a nuisance and be harmful to residents who live in your community. State and local health departments often get calls from residents who are bothered by SHS drifting into their unit. Secondhand smoke from one unit can seep through cracks and crevices, or travel through a shared ventilation system and enter into another person’s living space.

Smoke free policies can help property managers and owners protect their residents from the dangers of exposure to SHS and protect the investment in the buildings. Property owners, managers and residents can all benefit from a smoke free policy. Much like smoke free policies in worksites and other places of public access, establishing a smoke free policy does not ban someone who smokes from living there, it just requires that all residents abide by the policy while on the property.

Check Out Why Going Smokefree in Utah is Good Business


Good Health is Good Business: A landlord's guide to increasing revenue by adopting smokefree policies: The guide encourages smokefree policies in multi-unit housing. It has everything you need to ask questions of your tenants, write an addendum to your lease that covers a smoke free policy, and how to let your residents know about the policy.

Utah’s Smokefree Housing Directory is a free service for property managers to list their properties that have adopted a smokefree policy. A smokefree policy is an amenity renters want. You can download your application here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1Will it cost me money if I adopt a smoke free policy?
Actually you could save money with a smoke free policy. Smoking causes a lot of expensive property damage, from having to spend extra money to clean the apartment of a smoker, to money you might need to spend as a result of a fire. It can cost up to twice as much to fix an apartment that a smoker has lived in. That includes removing tar and nicotine from walls, cabinets, blinds and fixtures, getting the smoke smell out of drapes, carpets, and walls, and repairing any damaged, burned, or singed carpet, tiles, and drapes. It might also make your property more appealing since more and more renters are looking for non smoking units.
2Is a smoke free policy unfair to smokers?
A tobacco free policy is not unfair to smokers. Smoking is something you choose to do and federal law does not consider smokers a protected class. Property owners may use the fact that smoking adds maintenance costs and damages carpets, drapes and paint as a reason to keep someone from smoking in the unit. A smoke free policy is acceptable if you rent to a smoker, but tell them they can't smoke in the units. Under Utah law, you have the right to tell people not to smoke in the units, building, common areas, and on the premises.
3Why are smoke free apartments legal?
Laws and court rulings give nonsmokers the right to be free from exposure to secondhand smoke. There are federal, state, and local laws protecting nonsmokers. In fact, federal and state laws give apartment owners the right to adopt total smoke free policies. There are a lot of cases involving residents who have sued because they found the secondhand smoke to be a nuisance and couldn't enjoy their homes. In federally subsidized housing, you can't refuse to rent a unit to a smoker, but you can keep them and even guests from smoking in the unit. Advertising "smoke free" or "no smoking facilities" is also legal.
4Can I adopt a smoke free rule in HUD-assisted housing?
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a rule that requires all public housing to implement a smoke-free policy, or update their current policy, by July 30, 2018. The goal of the rule is to protect the health and safety of residents and staff, lower maintenance costs, and reduce the risk of deadly and costly fire. Although the HUD rule does not include electronic cigarettes and vaping, many of the public housing authorities have included these products in their no smoking policies. Learn more about the HUD rule here.
5Would a smoke free policy make an angry smoker sue me?
It's more likely that you will be sued by a frustrated nonsmoker than a smoker. Courts today usually favor nonsmokers in arguments over smoking. Many legal cases involving multiple-unit housing all over the United States have been won by nonsmoking residents. Under Utah law, secondhand smoke is considered a nuisance in apartments and condominiums. For more information on the Secondhand Smoke Amendments, contact your legal advisor.
6Is a smoking ban hard to enforce?
Once you put a policy in place, smoking will be so noticeable by other residents that you are likely to hear about it. Enforcing a policy is easier than getting in the middle of issues between smokers and nonsmokers. "No Smoking" signs let everyone know what's expected and decreases the need for management to iron things out. You can often use the same enforcement policy you use for other problems that go against the rules such as throwing loud parties, or parking in prohibited areas. If you have a "smoke free" policy in place and don't enforce it that could get you in trouble too.
7Will I lose renters, if I put a smoke free policy in place?
National surveys show renters prefer smoke free apartments. For example, in a 2003 survey in Washington State, two-thirds of renters preferred tobacco free housing. Seventy-five percent of Michigan renters don't smoke; yet most can't find tobacco free apartments to rent. Surveys also show that most smokers already go outside to smoke. We can show you how to go tobacco free while keeping your tenants who already smoke, happy too.
8Where can I advertise my smoke free property?
You can advertise your property on the Utah Smoke Free Multiple-Unit Housing Statewide Directory. This is a listing of properties that have adopted a smoke free policy. The list is provided as a free service to property managers, owners, and renters.

Public Housing

In 2016, Housing of Urban Development (HUD) announced a rule requiring all public housing to adopt smoke free policies by July 30, 2018. The rule restricts the use of prohibited tobacco products including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and hookah. Use of these products is not allowed anywhere inside public housing buildings including individual units, common areas, offices, or within 25 feet of the building(s).

To learn more about HUD’s smokefree public housing rule and find free resources, visit

Residents and Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing

Are you being bothered by secondhand smoke (SHS) drifting into your unit from a neighboring unit, the hallway or outdoors? Secondhand smoke may seep from one unit to another through cracks and crevices, or travel by a shared ventilation system and enter into the living space of another. Secondhand smoke not only causes discomfort and annoyance, it is a serious health hazard.

Air filtration and similar types of other ventilation systems do not eliminate the health hazards caused by SHS. As a resident, you have the right to live in an environment that is free from the health risks associated with being exposed to SHS. One solution is to advocate for a smoke free policy at your apartment or condominium community. Residents who are negatively affected by SHS may have the right to seek legal action against those who do not make adequate provisions to protect them from the harmful effects of SHS.

Here are some important things you should know:

  • Smokefree policies in apartments and condominiums are permitted under federal and Utah law.
  • Residents who smoke are not a protected legal class, i.e., there is no "right to smoke" under law.
  • Non-smokers with serious breathing disabilities or smoke allergies may have legal protection under the American with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act. Consult a doctor to have your condition documented if secondhand smoke affects your ability to breathe.

Many landlords may not be aware that SHS is a problem in their buildings, so your first step is to let them know about it. Please let them know about the landlord section of this website where they will learn about the many benefits of a non-smoking policy. The MUH Tool Kit is also an excellent resource.

As a renter, this section will provide useful tools that you can use to protect yourself from being exposed to SHS and live in a smoke free environment. It will answer frequently asked questions, questions to ask before you rent, what you can do if there is already a problem and how to talk to your landlord, make temporary fixes, and help you find a smoke free community.


Smokefree Worksite:

A smokefree workplace could save you money and improve the health of your workers. Find out more here: Save Lives Save Money

For help in making your workplace smokefree, please see our tool kit (link to tool kit) or contact us at (general number)

Click to view more information on tobacco in the workplace.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke can contribute to a variety of health problems. It contributes to several different types of cancers, increases risk for heart attack and stroke, exacerbates asthma, increases incidence of illness in children, and much more. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

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