Recent regulation of secondhand smoke has focused primarily on reducing or eliminating exposure in places of employment or in public places. This effort has proved successful in significantly reducing the incidence of smoking-related health conditions. Since people spend more time in their homes than any other location, policies aimed at controlling exposure to tobacco smoke in private multi-unit residences can significantly improve residents’ health.

Initial efforts at assessing and controlling exposure to secondhand smoke in private residences have focused on multi-unit rental apartment buildings. Problems with secondhand smoke exposure in common interest communities – condominiums, cooperatives and planned communities – have not received as much attention as rental buildings. Because of the different legal arrangements involved in a landlord and tenant transaction compared with an owner-occupant, the approaches to solutions, legal options, and legislative policy choices differ between the two situations.

A significant subset of multi-unit residences within the rental category is housing that is subsidized by the federal government or owned by state or local public entities. Receipt of public funds subjects this category of housing to additional regulations, so a separate section is included under rental apartments for issues and resources related to subsidized or public housing.


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Multi-Unit Housing

Making Affordable Housing Smoke-Free: First Steps (2021)

Answers to common questions the public health community and others may have about smoke-free housing policies in low-income or subsidized multi-unit housing, including suggestions on how to find affordable housing providers and educate them about smoke-free policies.


Creating Smoke-free Affordable Housing (2021)

Updated basic information for communities to consider when implementing affordable housing policies, including policy benefits, types of affordable housing, challenges, examples of affordable housing policies, and resources.


Comparing Private and Public Multi-Unit Housing (2021)

Updated comparison of smoke-free housing policy factors, with an examination of private market rate versus publicly subsidized multi-unit housing.


Regulating Smoking in Multi-Unit Housing (2021)

Updated basic guidelines for communities on policies that address secondhand smoke infiltration in multi-unit housing.


Smoke-free Public Housing: Reasonable Accommodations (2021)

Updated background information to help housing authorities field reasonable accommodation requests in smoke-free public housing.


Disclosure of Smoking Policies in Multi-Unit Housing (2021)

Updated fact sheet that explains the concept of a smoking policy disclosure ordinance or statute, and reviews benefits and concerns that authorities might want to keep in mind when considering such measures.

Multi-Unit Housing

Smoke-free Multi-Unit Housing: Equitable Enforcement Strategies (2020)

Fact sheet with examples of how graduated enforcement for smoke-free multi-unit housing can help protect residents from secondhand smoke and also protect housing stability for all residents.

National Smoke-free Housing Listserv

National Smoke-free Housing Listserv (2021)

The Public Health Law Center administers the National Smoke-free Housing Listserv, a national forum to share comments, questions, and advice on law, policy, and regulatory issues related to smoke-free and tobacco-free housing.

No Smoking Sign - Credit Rae O'Leary

Smoke-free Tribal Housing Policies (2020)

This is a resource for Tribal communities working on policies to restrict the smoking of commercial tobacco products in Tribal housing.

Marijuana and Papers

Marijuana in Multi-Unit Residential Settings (2019)

This fact sheet addresses a few common questions about smoking or vaping marijuana in multi-unit residences, including federally subsidized housing, and describes similarities between smoke-free tobacco and marijuana policies.

HUD Final Smoke-Free Rule

HUD's Rule to Restrict Smoking in Public Housing: An Overview (2017)

On November 30, 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a final rule to restrict smoking in public housing. This fact sheet provides an overview of the rule’s smoking restrictions.