Smoke-Free Housing

Everyone deserves to breathe clean, safe, smoke-free air in their homes

While 81% of homes in New York have a “no smoking in the house” rule, including 37% of smokers, for residents of multi-unit housing a no-smoking rule in their own unit does not adequately protect them from secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke migrates into units from common areas, through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing and ventilation systems. Essentially, if one person smokes in the building, everyone smokes.

That’s one reason why market-rate, luxury, senior, affordable and public housing providers are increasingly adopting smoke-free policies for their multi-unit buildings. In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development passed a rule requiring all federally funded public housing authorities to be smoke-free by July 31, 2018. New York State’s Homes and Community Renewal also encourages funded properties to adopt smoke-free policies.

THE BENEFITS of adopting a smoke-free policy are numerous. Smoke-free buildings help:

  • Protect the health of residents and staff, especially those with health conditions worsened by exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Prevent smoking-material fires, a leading cause of fire in multi-unit housing and fire deaths in the U.S.
  • Save on maintenance costs and maintain property value. The residue left behind by smoking contains toxins and requires extensive cleaning, re-painting and replacement of carpets and blinds.
  • Avoid potential lawsuits brought by residents exposed to unwanted secondhand smoke.
  • Attract tenants. The majority (87.2%) of New York adults do not smoke. Smokers and non-smokers alike understand the danger of exposure to secondhand smoke and prefer to live in smoke-free housing.

“Our no-smoking policy is the best thing that ever happened to us. What I feared would lead to confrontation has actually opened up dialogue and brought the residents together. The nonsmokers are thrilled that they no longer have to endure the smoke in silence and are thanking smokers for their efforts to comply with the policy. The smokers appreciate being recognized for their efforts and are grateful for the added incentive to quit.”

– Dina Puente, Property Manager, Schenectady Municipal Housing Authority

How Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities can help

CDTFC can provide free hands-on help to multi-unit property owners located in Albany, Rensselaer and Schenectady counties.

  • Telephone, email or in-person technical assistance, including presentations or information sessions.
  • Sample policies, sample outreach materials including resident and staff surveys, and suggested timelines.
  • No-cost smoke-free signage as funding permits

For free assistance, contact Jeanie Orr at or use our online contact form.

Learn More

Visit our partner website, for more information about going smoke-free and to download toolkits for:

To FIND smoke-free multi-unit properties in your area, VISIT the statewide Smoke-Free Housing Registry.

Your smoke-free community not listed in the registry?
Email to list your smoke-free multi-unit housing at no cost.