Due to the dangers of secondhand smoke, more and more Massachusetts residents are asking for smoke-free housing in apartment buildings, condominiums, and other housing to protect their own health and the health of their families.

Evidence indicates that children in multi-unit housing show significantly higher levels of nicotine exposure than those who live in a smoke-free environment; and young people who live in tobacco-free households are also less likely to smoke than those who live in households in which people smoke.

Tenants and housing agencies in Boston, Lowell and Springfield have successfully worked together to implement smoke-free policies throughout public multi-unit housing in these cities. A smoke-free housing policy only prohibits smoking in the building or on the property. It does not prohibit smokers from living in the building.

Many additional housing authorities and properties are considering smoke-free multi-unit housing policies to protect the health of residents.

MTCP and the Health Resources in Action Smoke-free Families Initiative work in coordination with the Massachusetts Smoke-free Housing Project, an initiative of the Public Health Advocacy Institute, to provide support to tenants, landlords, and condominium owners and associations to understand the benefits and challenges of making homes 100% smoke-free.

If you have questions, seek technical advice or referrals, please see additional resources below for landlords, tenants, and condo associations or call our Smoke-free Housing Project toll-free hotline: 877-830-8795.

Additional Resources

Secondhand smoke is a health hazard. Secondhand smoke comes from a burning cigarette and contains over 4,000 chemicals and poisons, and at least 50 of these are known to cause cancer. When you breathe secondhand smoke, you inhale the same chemicals as smokers do.

The 2006 Surgeon General’s Report on secondhand smoke concludes that there is no risk-free level of exposure.

There is no safe level of exposure, even if you can't smell it. Opening a window, sitting in a separate area, or using air filters or a fan does not get rid of secondhand smoke.

Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the best way to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. The majority of Massachusetts residents support a smoke-free policy for their building.

Secondhand smoke exposes your family and friends to many risks. In adults, it causes problems with asthma, poor blood circulation, heart disease, and lung cancer. Secondhand smoke is now known to cause strokes in nonsmokers according to the 2014 Surgeon General Report. Exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of stroke by 20-30%.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke causes more common coughs, colds, problems with asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis in children. It is also especially harmful to pregnant women and to fetal development.

For more information on the Smoke-free Housing Project, call 1-877-830-8795.

This information is provided by the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation & Prevention Program within the Department of Public Health.