Residents Exposed at Home

Secondhand smoke drifts

It should come as no surprise that exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) at home is just as deadly as exposure in the workplace. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke drifts through multi-unit buildings and can enter common areas and units occupied by non-smokers. The only way to protect health is for buildings to be smokefree.



through doors, windows, hallways, and ventilation ducts, and through gaps around outlets, pipes, fixtures, and walls.

UP TO 65%

of the air in an apartment can come from other units in the building. The only way to protect health is for buildings to be completely smokefree.


who rent their home remain exposed to secondhand smoke.


to property owners and managers. Smokefree multi-unit buildings can reduce damage and maintenance costs, decrease turnover time and cost, increase marketability, reduce fire risk, and provide an amenity many residents desire. 

Who Is Affected?

The CDC's 2015 report, Vital Signs, found nonsmokers' exposure to secondhand smoke was reduced by half between 1999-2012, yet 1 in 4 nonsmokers remain exposed. The report found striking disparities in the level of exposure to secondhand smoke among Americans. More than 1 in 3 nonsmokers who live in rental housing are exposed to secondhand smoke, and 2 out of every 5 children (including 7 out of 10 African American children) are exposed. Despite the tremendous progress the U.S. has made in eliminating secondhand smoke in workplaces and public places, much progress remains to be achieved in protecting everyone's right to breathe smokefree air in the home.

The home is where many people remain most exposed to secondhand smoke, especially children and older adults.

What Can Be Done?

How to implement smokefree policies

What Can I Do?

There are several steps that can be taken to ensure that your home remains smokefree, including letting all guests, caregivers, and babysitters know that they are not to smoke in or around your home, and requesting any smokers who live in the house to smoke outdoors, away from entrances and windows.

Unfortunately, many people are faced with breathing secondhand smoke that drifts into their apartment or condominium from other units or common areas. It is important to know that apartment building owners, condominium boards, public housing authorities, and owner/managers of other types of multi-unit housing have the right to adopt a policy to not allow smoking in and around the building(s).

While most communities do not have laws yet that address this situation, you can still take action to encourage your housing provider to implement a smokefree policy. If you are a renter or owner who is suffering from drifting secondhand smoke in your unit, there are steps you can take to work with your neighbors and property owner/manager to adopt a smokefree policy for the building. Learn more on our sister organization’s page for residents of multi-unit properties. 

What Can Management Do?

If you are an owner or manager of housing units, you can mitigate both the health risks and financial costs of indoor smoking by going smokefree.  You would be in good company by taking action. Property owners and management companies are adopting policies to restrict where smoking can occur (both indoors and on outdoor property) in order to protect the health of residents, but also because a smokefree building protects property values, reduces maintenance costs, reduces turnover time, increase marketability, and reduce the risk of fire.  A smokefree policy is good for health and is a good business decision.

Are There Laws for Smokefree Multi-Unit Housing?

Residents throughout the U.S. are speaking up to demand smokefree living environments. There are now more than 60 communities in California that have adopted local laws that require all multi-unit housing to be 100% smokefree. Share your story with your City Council member and get in touch with your local Health Department to learn about local resources. Contact us to learn if there is activity for smokefree multi-unit housing in your community and how you can get involved.

See the ANR Foundation's list of communities with local laws that address smoking multi-unit housing.

More Information

Our sister organization, the ANR Foundation, has an informative smokefree housing section, with fact sheets, model leases, and much more. 

The Benefits of Smokefree Buildings

Learn why having a smokefree building is the smart choice for property owners and managers.

Secondhand Smoke in Multi-Unit Housing

This colorful infographic gives residents and housing providers an overview about secondhand smoke in MUH and why buildings should go smokefree.

The Smoker Next Door

A tip sheet on how to deal with having a smoker living next door to  you in multi-unit housing.

Enforcement Tips for Building Managers and Maintenance Staff

Get recommendations for achieve compliance with a smokefree policy at your properties.

Frequently Asked Questions about Smokefree Buildings

Are you a property manager who has questions about going smokefree? Learn more here!

Model Smokefree Lease Addendum

Property owners and managers can use this sample lease addendum to help implement a smokefree policy in multi-unit buildings.

Are you exposed in your home?

ANR Can Provide You With Resources