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Smoke Free Housing


Owners, Landlords and Managers


Smoke Free policies are quickly becoming the standard for multi-unit housing in the U.S.[1]


There are no federal or state laws that keep an owner from banning smoking in their buildings or on their properties.  Smoke free policies do not ban a smoker from renting or make the smoker quit; they only state that a smoker cannot smoke while on the property or can only smoke in designated areas.


Reasons to ban smoking:

briefcase of money


Cost Impact Chart  

  • Reduced maintenance costs. (click on the Cost Impact Chart  below picture to see the savings.)
  • Reduced turnover (secondhand smoke can cause nonsmokers to move out).
  • Reduced insurance premiums.[2]
  • Reduced fire risk.
    •  Property losses from smoking-material fires total hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
  • Smoking is the leading cause of home fires and the number one cause of fire deaths in the United States[3
  • Reduced tenant complaints.


It is legal to ban smoking on and in properties.

  • Smoking is not a legal right. Smoke free policies do not infringe on the legal rights of individuals.[4]
  • Federal or state law does not restrict owners, landlords or managers from adopting “no smoking” policies.  In fact, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development strongly encourages owners and managers to adopt smoke free policies for their properties.[5]
    • Owners who have HUD-assisted housing units that decide to make the smoke free policy a condition of the lease may need HUD approval of the lease change.   
    • It is not necessary to seek HUD approval for changes to house rules if the change meets HUD standard criteria for house rules.
  copy of apartment lease

  • Although the Connecticut General Statutes Sec. 19a-342 exempts public housing authorities from having to ban smoking on properties, the law does not prevent owners from implementing their own smoke free policies.
  • A smoke free policy is no different than a “no pets” and “no loud music” policy.
  • Owners may not deny a person the right to live on the property because they smoke but owners can regulate that the person not smoke on the property
  • Remember, smoke free policies are about the smoke, not the smoker.

    Tenants have rights protecting them from secondhand smoke
    • The federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) implies that landlords are to provide a safe and habitable environment to protect tenants. (6)  
      • This means handling all unwanted nuisances such as noise, poor ventilation, heating and secondhand smoke exposure that substantially affects the tenant’s enjoyment of the premises.
    • The landlord should take actions to prevent secondhand smoke from causing harm to tenants and affecting their enjoyment of the property. 
    • Landlords that do not take action may be liable to legal action should the tenant show they have been harmed
    Listed below are some ways tenants can bring legal action regarding secondhand smoke exposure against the owner, manager or other tenants under common law. [7]


    -Breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment             


    -Breach of warranty of habitability                         


    -Intentional infliction of emotional distress              


    -Constructive eviction                                          



    • The Americans With Disabilities Act and the FHA state that no one can be discriminated against in workplaces, public places or in housing due to disability.
    • Severe breathing problems are considered a disability.  Facilities are required to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with severe breathing disabilities, which may include making the facility totally smoke-free.[9]
    •  Connecticut’s code regulating landlord-tenant relations empowers the local health department/ district to determine whether ventilation or other sanitary conditions pose a threat to health, and if so, order the landlord. [10]
    Ventilation is Not a Solution.
    According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE):
    • There is no known ventilation or air cleaning system that can eliminate all the toxins from another resident’s smoke. 
    • Sealing outlets, cracks and other places where smoke seeps through does not eliminate  smoke traveling from unit to unit. 
    • ASHRAE encourages smoke-free policies as "the only complete solution to the problem of secondhand smoke."[11]
    <Strategies and Tools to Go Smoke Free>
      list of things to do 
    Steps For Going
    Smoke Free
    (a checklist to implement a smoke free policy)    
       yes/no survey  
    Tenant Survey
    (find out your tenant's
    interest in a smoke
    free policy) 
     paper work
    Smoke Free
    Housing Policies and Tenant Lease Addendums 
    man looking out door in hallway
    Sample Letters to
    Tenants Announcing
    Smoke Free Policies 
    no smoking sign
    Smoke Free
    Resources for
    Condominium Owners
    and Homeowners Associations 
    hands being pulled out of cigarettes
    Resources for Tenants
    or Staff who want
    to Quit Tobacco Use 
    cleaning bucket
    Recommendations for
    Cleaning to Transition to Smoke Free Units 

    This information is for educational purposes only and is not to be construed as a legal opinion or as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.


    More Resources for Smoke Free Housing:

    National Center for Healthy

    "Reasons to Explore Smoke-Free Housing" (developed by Smoke-Free Housing New England and Tohn Environmental Strategies for the NCHH)

    Smoke-Free Environments Law Project:

    Tobacco Control Legal Consortium-

    Infiltration of Secondhand Smoke into Condominiums, Apartments and Other Multi-Unit Dwellings.

    Secondhand Smoke Seepage into Multi-Unit Affordable Housing

    Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium:

    Tobacco Control Legal Consortium:

    Technical Assistance Legal Center:

    Americans for  Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation:

    CDC Healthy Homes Manual Smokfree Policies in Multi-Unit Housing



    [1] National Center for Healthy Housing, Green & Healthy Housing, Reasons to Explore Smoke-free Housing, Early Fall 2009.


    [3  U.S. Fire Administration / FEMA.

    [4] Technical Assistance Legal Center, There is No Constitutional Right to Smoke, Public Health Institute 2005

    [5] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Notice H 2010-21, Issued September 15, 2010.





    [10]  Conn.Gen.Stat. Section 47a-52



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