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Smoke-Free Multi-Housing Research and Supporting Documents

The issues of secondhand smoke and smoke-free multi-housing have sparked research and discussion around the world. Below are summaries and key points of some of the research and supporting documents as well as links to the full research papers when possible.

Research and Supporting Documentation Topics

Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey
Twin Cities Metro Area Survey of Apartment Renters
Research on the Feasibility of Smoke-Free Apartments and Air Transfer in Multi-Housing
Secondhand Smoke Survey of Ramsey County Residents
American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Position Statement


Minnesota Adult Tobacco Survey

In 2015 ClearWay Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Health, and Westat conducted a statewide telephone survey of Minnesotans and found(5):

  • Only 14% of adult Minnesotans are smokers
  • 61% of Minnesota smokers have smoke-free home rules
  • Almost 90% of Minnesota adults live in homes where smoking is not allowed anywhere
  • Among all nonsmokers who live in multi-unit housing, 17% have smelled smoke in their homes in the past seven days

Learn more about the research:

View the full report here
View the fact sheet here


Twin Cities Metro Area Survey of Apartment Renters

Live Smoke Free and Wilder Research conducted a 2009 metro-wide survey of renters and found that:

  • Approximately 30% of renters are exposed to secondhand smoke that comes into their unit from somewhere else in the building.
  • Of renters who are exposed to secondhand smoke, 34% are so bothered by the smoke that they are thinking of moving in order to avoid exposure.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Learn more about the research:
View the survey fact sheet that compares data from the 2001 survey and the 2009 survey
View the full report on the 2009 survey of metro renters(1)
View data from the 2001 statewide survey(2)

The 2009 research was funded by a Tobacco-Free Communities grant from the Minnesota Department of Health.


Research on the Feasibility of Smoke-Free Apartments and Air Transfer in Multi-Housing:

The Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) is an independent nonprofit organization in Minnesota that works to promote the responsible and efficient use of natural and economic resources. In 2001, CEE conducted research about secondhand smoke in apartment buildings. The research consisted of four separate projects:

  • In-depth telephone interviews with owners of smoke-free apartment buildings in Minnesota. Twenty (20) building owners, who each owned multiple smoke-free buildings, were identified and surveyed.
    • Many owners saw a decrease or no effect in turnover, vacancy rates, and staff time to manage the building.
    • About 95%, or 19 of 20, of the owners were “very likely” to continue offering smoke-free buildings.
  • Mail surveys of a statistical sample of Minnesota renters. The surveys measured the percentage of renters who experienced secondhand smoke coming into their unit and the level of interest renters had in living in a smoke-free building.
    • Almost 50% of Minnesota renters are “extremely” or “very” interested in living in a smoke-free building.
    • Over 50% of renters would be “very likely” to choose a smoke-free building over a building that allows smoking, all other things being equal.
    • Over 33% of renters would pay more to live in a smoke-free building.
    • Many renters would also be willing to make sacrifices such as driving farther to work or walking farther to a bus line in order to live in a smoke-free building.
  • Researching the legal issues related to providing or not providing smoke-free rental housing. CEE worked with Minnesota attorneys to analyze issues of discrimination, privacy, and liability when creating a smoke-free apartment building.
    • After consulting a wide range of legal materials, an attorney well versed in landlord-tenant law concluded that property managers may include use restrictions, such as a no-use-of-tobacco restriction, in a lease.
    • Read more about legal issues in adopting a smoke-free policy on the Commonly Asked Legal Questions page in the property manager's section.
  • Testing strategies on actual apartment buildings to reduce movement of secondhand smoke. Building testing and research concluded that air flow between units in apartment buildings is significant.
    • Secondhand smoke is difficult to reduce and virtually impossible to eliminate.
    • The average cost to seal a unit to reduce secondhand smoke leakage was about $700 per unit.
    • However, sealing the air leaks was still not enough to eliminate the secondhand smoke problem completely.

For more information about CEE's research, read the research summary(2) or detailed reports from the four projects on CEE's web site.

View our video "How Secondhand Smoke Moves Through Apartments."


Secondhand Smoke Survey of Ramsey County Residents

The University of Minnesota School of Public Health, supported by ClearWay MinnesotaSM, conducted a random sample mail survey of 314 residents of Ramsey County, Minnesota in 2005. Some of the questions in the survey asked residents their thoughts about secondhand smoke and smoke-free multi-housing.

  • A majority of residents agree that secondhand smoke is harmful to adults and children.
    • Ninety-one percent (91%) agree that "secondhand smoke is harmful to adults."
    • Ninety-four percent (94%) agree that "secondhand smoke is harmful to children."
  • Almost half of Ramsey County residents who live in multi-housing report secondhand smoke coming into their unit from somewhere else.
  • Ramsey County residents prefer to live in smoke-free buildings or homes.
    • Ninety percent (90%) said they "prefer to live in a smoke-free building or home."
    • Seventy-eight percent (78%) do not allow their guests to smoke in their home.
    • Eighty-five percent (85%) agree that "smoke-free policies protect the rights of non-smokers.

For more information, read the fact sheet about the Ramsey County survey.(3)


American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Position Statement:

In 2016, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) reaffirmed their position document on secondhand smoke.

In 2014, an article about the dangers of e-cigarettes was published in the ASHRAE Journal.

  • It concluded: "We conclude that e-cigarettes emit harmful chemicals into the air and need to be regulated in the same manner as tobacco smoking."
  • Read the article