Smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing
Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure in homes, condominiums and apartment complexes remains a problem for many people, especially children and individuals with asthma or other chronic medical conditions. The El Dorado County Tobacco Use Prevention Program provides information and resources for community members and property owners/managers of multi-unit housing complexes on ways to effectively manage secondhand smoke and establish smoke-free policies.
According to Christy White, Supervising Health Education Coordinator and Director of TUPP, there are currently no state laws in California that require apartments or condominiums to be smoke-free. However, property owners have the legal right to establish smoke-free policies in their complexes and at least six complexes in El Dorado County have done just that. In addition, several cities in California have recently passed ordinances protecting residents in multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke.
“It’s encouraging to see these positive steps happening,” White said. “Now that 87 percent of Californians are non-smokers, it makes sense that there would be an effort to protect people who have to share common living spaces with others in apartment and condominium complexes.”
White, who has been involved in the field of tobacco control and prevention for over 16 years, says that smoke-free policies can be phased in over time if property owners or managers are concerned about jumping into a policy that prohibits smoking altogether.
“Managers can start by designating one section of the complex, a group of units or a building as non-smoking, and gradually expand from there,” suggests White.
“At the very least, areas such as the laundry room, children’s play area and common walkways should be considered for a non-smoking policy.”
TUPP is a program of the El Dorado County Health Services Department. For additional information and resources on secondhand smoke, including fact sheets and model policies for smoke-free condominiums or apartments, please contact White at 530-621-6142. Smoke-free multi-unit housing resources are also listed on the Tobacco Use Prevention Program’s webpage at http://www.edcgov.us/PublicHealth.