The implementation of a smoke-free policy may seem daunting, but with clear communication and implementation, you will find that your investment and residents will benefit.
Step 1: Understand Why Smoke-Free Is Best
Public housing authorities have been enforcing smoke-free policies for over four years. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has given all public housing authorities until July 30, 2018 to comply with a smoke-free policy.
In addition to public housing units, it is strongly encouraged that excluded properties enact a smoke-free policy and, in Utah, that these policies include electronic cigarettes and other electronic smoking devices.
Residents can be exposed to secondhand smoke from just a few smokers. Non-smokers living in properties that allow smoking are at risk of secondhand smoke exposure, which has been linked to heart disease, lung cancer, and stroke. Property maintenance and fire safety are also affected by smoking. A comprehensive no-smoking policy is the safest, most cost-effective solution.
Step 2: Find local partners
It is easier to implement change when you have support. Find out how your local Tobacco-Free Community Partnership can assist you and your residents.
In addition, you can contact your local health department to learn about local smoke-free policies, how they protect your residents, and how to help them quit smoking.
Step 3: Inform Your Residents
Communicate the change in policy, why it is being implemented, and when it will take effect. Residents should be notified several months in advance through newsletters, bulletin boards, emails, and even informational meetings. In this way, you can reduce opposition and increase support from your residents.
Although many residents may want to quit smoking, a smoke-free policy does not require them to do so. You can provide them with free and confidential tools from waytoquit.org that can assist them in quitting.
Make a Plan
Let’s begin with the basics. Make a date! By setting a start date for a smoke-free policy, both residents and staff will have time to prepare. Your staff should be trained on how to enforce the policy, including how violations and complaints will be handled.
The majority of smoke-free policies are implemented through lease addendums that residents sign during recertification or renewal.
Step 4: Put your smoke-free policy into action
Please make sure your current residents sign the new lease addendum and make sure your staff, visiting property members, contractors, and any service providers are aware of the new rules as well.
Your buildings should be clearly marked as smoke-free, and outdoor smoking areas should be clearly marked if applicable. Make sure residents are following the new policy and explain the rules clearly.
Step 5: Share the News
Share the news that your property is smoke-free with local media. Make sure your website highlights your smoke-free policy.
Celebrate your hard work and what going smoke-free means for your residents! Host a small event with treats and information about the benefits of your housing. Smoke-free policies are one way to ensure that safe housing prioritizes residents’ health.