Non-Smoking Policies for Multi-Unit Housing

Aug 11, 2010

SPOKANE, Wash. – Aug 11, 2010 – Cigarettes are once again to blame for two recent fires in multi-unit housing complexes in Spokane County. To better help protect the public from the serious environmental and health consequences of smoking in buildings like these, the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) continues to encourage owners and managers to establish non-smoking policies.

Many proprietors are unaware they can establish their own non-smoking policies. Restrictions can include banning smoking in individual units, on balconies, near windows and doors, or on the entire complex. The Landlord Association of the Inland Northwest supports owners and managers who choose to implement smoke-free policies.

Locally, there have been several properties, including some owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), that have implemented some form of a smoke-free policy.

The benefits to owners include lower risk of fire, reduced cleaning costs, less trash to pick up (cigarette butts), fewer complaints and possible insurance savings.  It could also attract a wider renter base, as less than 16 percent of adults in Washington state smoke. That means that 84 percent of potential renters are non-smokers.

Tenants who live in multi-unit housing deserve protection and options for safe housing. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe exposure to secondhand smoke. In addition, the substance left behind by smoke is absorbed into almost every surface including walls and carpets. It is virtually impossible to remove or cover up. 

SRHD receives several calls every month from non-smoking tenants complaining about neighbors' drifting smoke. SRHD's Tobacco Prevention and Control program staff offers free technical assistance to owners and managers in developing smoke-free policies. If you own or manage a multi-unit housing complex and would like assistance with developing a smoke-free policy please contact Julie Scholer at 324-1452 or at jscholer@spokanecounty.org. SRHD is also currently collecting information from tenants affected by secondhand smoke. If you would like to register a complaint, please contact Scholer.

Now available, Public Health's Top 10, visit www.srhd.org. The site also offers comprehensive, updated information about Spokane Regional Health District and its triumphs in making Spokane a safer and healthier community.