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The Benefits of a Smoke-Free Policy

Multi-housing owners, managers, and residents can all benefit from a smoke-free policy. Smoke-free buildings are cost-effective, safe, and healthy.

View our video about the benefits of smoke-free housing!



Market Advantages
Research was conducted in 2009 by Live Smoke Free and Wilder Research. We conducted a metro-wide survey of renters and found that a majority of renters (75%) would be likely to choose a smoke-free building over a building that allows smoking if the buildings were the same in every other way. Renters are also interested in buildings that provide outdoor smoke-free areas such as balconies, entryways, and entirely smoke-free properties. Finally, in order to live in a smoke-free building, many renters are willing to live in a building that does not have a pool or playground, drive farther to work, and pay more rent.(2)

Building owners and managers have an opportunity to appeal to the large group of renters who want smoke-free apartment living.


Reduced Costs
Tobacco smoke leaves sticky residue on walls, curtains, cabinets, blinds, appliances, fixtures, and ceilings. The odor often stays in carpets, curtains, and walls. Dropped ashes may result in burn damage to tiles, carpets, countertops, and bathtubs.

An apartment that has been smoked in will probably need to be cleaned, primed, painted, and sealed; carpets and countertops may need to be replaced; even floor tiles and sub floors may need to be cleaned. A 2007 estimate from an Oregon restoration service stated that the average cost of conversion for a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom apartment that has been smoked in is over $15,000!(3) Many building owners and property managers have said that cleaning a smoking unit often costs 2-3 times as much as cleaning a non-smoking unit. Our fact sheet "Damage from Cigarette Smoke Residue: The Cost of Allowing Smoking in Multi-Housing" goes into more detail about the related damages.


Reduced Fire Risk
Smoking-related fires are usually caused by a dropped cigarette; often by someone who has fallen asleep or may be under the influence of alcohol. A dropped cigarette may lie in furniture or bed linens and could smolder for up to 30-45 minutes.(4) The smoldering cigarette can cause smoke which contains carbon monoxide and other highly toxic gases that can put residents at risk of injury or death.(4)

Apartments account for a larger share of smoking-related fires than any other residential structure.(5) Smoking is the leading cause of residential fire death in Minnesota and around the country. The fatality rate due to a smoking-related fire is nearly four times higher than the overall residential fire rate; injuries are more than twice as likely.(5) In 2009, smoking caused one-quarter (25%) of multi-housing fire deaths in Minnesota.(6) 25% of victims who die in a smoking-related fire are not the smoker whose cigarette started the fire.(7) Children, spouses, neighbors, friends, roommates, firefighters and others may be injured or die in smoking-related fires.

For more information on smoking-related fires in apartments, view Live Smoke Free's fact sheet "Up in Flames: The Dangers of Smoking in Apartment Units."


Potential Insurance Savings

Some insurance companies nationwide are encouraging smoke-free policies, and offering discounts for properties who adopt them. One example is Capitol Insurance Group. Check with your insurance provider to see how a smoke-free policy might benefit your rates.


Fewer Complaints from Residents

Removing secondhand smoke from the air in your apartment building eliminates a common cause of tension among your residents. Property managers frequently report fewer resident complaints after a policy is implemented.


'Green' Certification Credits

If you are planning to develop a new property or renovate an old one to make it more eco-friendly, many green certification programs offer point(s) for a smoke-free policy. For more information on smoke-free policies and  LEED building certification visit their website.


Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LITHC) Benefits

Housing developers in every community in Minnesota can now take advantage of a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit point for adopting a smoke-free policy. In Spring 2010, both Dakota County and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) both approved Qualified Allocation Plans (QAPs) that included awarding a point to development applications for new construction or rehabilitation if the project adopts a smoke-free policy. St. Paul and Minneapolis have had a point in their QAPs since 2008. Washington County included a point for a smoke-free policy in their 2012 QAP. For more information, read our handout about Low-Income Housing Tax Credits in Minnesota.