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How to go smoke-free

​Smoke-free housing benefits everyone with clean air and safer homes. Here are some steps to take ​to make your home or building smoke-free.

How to go smoke-free

Making your home or ​building(s) smoke-free in 3 steps:

  1. Develop a policy
  2. Communicate with staff, tenants and visitors about the policy. Train staff on the policy and their responsibilities for enforcement
  3. Implement the policy

Steps to go smoke-free

Steps to go smoke-free

A smoke-free housing policy needs to include:

  • a definition of smoking stating which products are not allowed
  • exactly where smoking is not allowed
  • that the policy will apply to anyone that enters the property
  • consequences of violating the policy
  • the policy's effective date

See an example of a policy in a sample lease addendum​.


Legal communication requirements 

Be compliant with legal requirements for providing adequate notice to tenants. Provide at least 30 days notice before the end of a lease (60 days for Section 8). See a sample Notice of Rule Change​.

Start early

As you develop your policy, educate residents about the decision to go smoke free. Conduct a survey​ to listen to the concerns of your residents. Some residents may not like the idea of going smoke free, but they will appreciate the chance to voice their concerns.

​Use multiples forms of communication to share information about the new policy:

  • a letter or email notifying them of the upcoming change (if all tenants have email addresses)​
  • host a building meeting
  • have ​one-on-one conversations
  • flyers
  • building notices​ 


Train staff about the policy change and how it affects their responsibilities.*

Potential renters

Advertise your residential listings as smoke free. Smoke free housing is popular and may attract even more attention to your property. When showing a unit to a potential renter, explain the property's smoke free policy. 

Include information about the smoke-free policy on all housing applications.

Communicate Widely

Tell everyone who enters the building about the smoke free policy. Post signs within the building letting potential tenants and other visitors know that the property is smoke-free (order free signs​).

Implement a smoke-free policy the same way as any other lease of lease modification.

Modify leases

Choose an effective date and before that date, develop a no-smoking lease addendum. The addendum should include the policy's effective date.

Existing tenants

Provide existing residents with a copy of the no-smoking lease addendum before their leases renew. Tell them it will become part of their lease.

If you have concerns about tenants who may have difficulty going outside to smoke, consider moving them to a vacant unit on the first floor or closer to an exit or elevator to make getting outside easier.

New tenants

Provide new tenants with a lease or the lease addendum, that includes the property's smoke-free policy.

Maintaining a smoke free environment

Tenants need to understand the smoke free policy to maintain smoke free housing. Tenants should also understand the consequences of ignoring the smoke free policy. Respond to smoke free policy violations the same way you treat other lease violations (e.g., noise, late rent, etc.).

Also, make sure the property looks and smells smoke free:

  • Keep smoke-free signs posted and easy to read
  • Replace signs if necessary
  • Clean up cigarette butts
  • Inspect the building or property regularly to look and smell for signs of smoking. Consider frequent inspections during the first year to ensure resident compliance

Free resources and help

For more information, download A Landlord's Guide to Smoke-Free Housing​.

Find sample documents​ you can adapt and use.

* Free resources​ and help

If you are thinking about making your property smoke free, BPHC can help. BPHC offers free support with smoke free housing, including:

  • Answering questions and troubleshooting by phone any issues related to smoke free housing
  • Conducting trainings for building staff
  • ​Attending resident meetings and speaking about health consequences of secondhand smoke exposure
  • Discussing resources to quit smoking

Contact us at​ or 617-534-4718.

​The information on this page is provided for educational purposes only and is not to be taken as legal opinion or as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Readers with questions about the application of the law to specific facts are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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