Healthier Buildings, Happier Residents,
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.
In a similar study done in 2009, Live Smoke Free and Wilder Research 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.
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.
Fewer Fire Risks
Apartments account for a larger share of smoking-related fires than any other residential structure.(5) Smoking is the leading cause of 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)One quarter (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."
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.
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.
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.
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.