Tobacco-Free Environments

Tobacco Prevention

Smoke- and tobacco-free environments help protect individuals from secondhand and thirdhand smoke. They also make it easier for people to quit and support those who have quit by eliminating potential triggers.


Spokane Regional Health District works with local businesses, employers, landlords, colleges, and universities to create smoke and tobacco-free communities.

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is smoke from burning tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. It is also smoke that has been exhaled, or breathed out, by the person smoking.

Secondhand smoke can cause harm to exposed children and adults and may contain over 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 of which can cause cancer.

What is secondhand vapor?

Secondhand vapor is vapor from electronic vaping devices, such as e-cigarettes, that is exhaled, or breathed out, by the person vaping.

Evidence indicates that the vapor produced by vaping devices is not safe. Vapor has been found to contain nicotine, heavy metals, ultrafine particulates, toxic chemicals and cancer causing agents.

What is thirdhand smoke and vapor?

Thirdhand smoke and vapor is the residue of tobacco smoke or electronic vaping device vapor that accumulates on surfaces, textiles, and people after smoking or vaping has occurred.

Thirdhand smoke can cause harm to exposed children and adults. Residue builds up on surfaces over time and resists normal cleaning. Thirdhand smoke can't be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home. The only way to protect against thirdhand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment.


All residents have a right to clean, smoke-free air. Unfortunately, people who live in multi-unit housing are commonly exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS).

SHS is a mixture of side stream smoke from the tip of the cigarette and mainstream smoke exhaled by the smoker. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, 250 of which are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure.

  • Exposure to secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease, exacerbation of asthma, higher incidence of respiratory illness and other respiratory health issues.
  • Infants, children, and people with pre-existing conditions (i.e. asthma) are especially vulnerable to the health effects of secondhand smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke can cause people with asthma to have more frequent and severe asthma attacks.

For Landlords

Implementing a smoke-free policy in multi-unit housing properties is the only effective way to eliminate the health risks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke. There are many benefits to housing providers for implementing smoke-free policies. Benefits include:

  • Lower insurance costs
  • Reduced fire risk
  • Decreased unit turn time
  • Reduced staff time maintaining grounds
  • Decreased complaints about smoking
  • Increased likelihood units will be full

Are you a property owner and considering a smoke-free policy on your property?

Spokane Regional Health District may be able to help. Staff can assist property managers in surveying tenants and staff for the best policy option and can help process survey results. Staff can also help by providing technical assistance and support along the way.

The health district offers $250 grants to help some housing providers implement a smoke free policy.

Non-Smoking Property

Do NOT allow smoking anywhere on the property.

Do NOT allow smoking inside individual units,balconies, patios, or any other place on the property.

Smoking in Designated Areas Only

Do NOT allow smoking inside individual units, balconies, patios, near windows, doors, or in common area.

But DO have a clearly identified designated area on the property for people to use for smoking.

For Tenants

If you are looking for an apartment, ask about smoke-free policies when you are searching for a place to live. Other questions to ask include:

  • Does the smoke-free policy apply to no in-unit smoking, in designated smoking areas, or on the entire property?
  • Does the policy include smoking on the patios?
  • How is the policy enforced?
  • Does the policy include vaping devices?
  • Does the policy include marijuana smoking?

If you are a tenant living in an apartment and are experiencing secondhand smoke exposure, here are some resources that may be able to help:


People spend a lot of time at work. Policies in the workplace can help to promote health, including being tobacco free. Workplaces are required to comply with Washington State’s Smoking in Public Places Law (RCW 70.160) but additional steps can be taken to promote tobacco cessation and protect employees from secondhand smoke. The health district helps worksites develop and implement tobacco-free policies that are right for them.

Spokane Regional Health District provides worksites with a toolkit to help them determine the best policy for their industry and their employees. Staff can assist with choosing a policy, implementing a policy, and can provide resources for employees along the way. The toolkit is easy to use and can be found here: Smoke- and Tobacco-Free Worksites Toolkit

Case Studies

Employers implement smoke-free and tobacco-free policies for a variety of reasons. Learn what some Spokane County businesses have done by reading these case studies:

Smoke-Free Housing Toolkit
Smoke-Free Housing Toolkit

For landlords and owners, the business benefits of going smoke-free can translate into thousands of dollars.

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