Strategies and Steps to Eliminate Secondhand Smoke in Your Apartment
See Live Smoke Free's fact sheet Smoked Out of Your Apartment for more suggestions on eliminating secondhand smoke in your apartment (opens as a pdf in a new window).
Step One: Document the Problem
- Determine the source of the secondhand smoke.
- When do you smell smoke: all the time, only in the evening or morning?
- Where is the smoke entering your unit?
- Where do you think it is coming from?
- Keep a log of when and where you smell smoke.
- Make a list of the solutions you've tried already.
- What steps have you taken?
- Fans, air fresheners, and other “smoke eaters” will only mask the problem, but trying some temporary solutions might help you illustrate the situation to your landlord.
- Talk with your neighbors.
- Are your nonsmoking neighbors experiencing the same problem? Will they talk to the landlord with you?
- If you feel comfortable doing so, consider talking to your smoking neighbor and voicing your concerns. Focus on solutions, such as asking them to smoke outside and away from the building.
- Keep track of all symptoms and illnesses.
- Document any health problems you and your family are experiencing as a result of secondhand smoke in your apartment.
- Health problems may include ear infections, sore throats, asthma attacks, and bronchitis.
- Ask your health care provider to write a letter stating that the secondhand smoke causes your family to be sick.
Step Two: Talk to Your Building Management
- Write a letter to your building manager or landlord.
- Explain your problem and offer solutions.
- If appropriate, include a copy of a letter from your doctor explaining your health problems.
- Keep copies of any correspondence.
- Follow up by approaching your landlord to discuss the situation.
- Be positive, polite, and stick to the issue.
- Ask to work together to solve the problem instead of getting angry or yelling.
- Offer solutions.
- Work with your landlord and offer to help think of or implement some solutions.
- Solutions could include conducting a resident survey, holding a residents' meeting, relocating to a different part of the building, or ending your lease early to find a smoke-free building.
- Provide information.
- Give your landlord information on the dangers of being exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Explain the benefits of having a smoke-free building.
- Emphasize that building owners can legally make their buildings smoke free.
- For HUD (Housing and Urban Development) units, point out that changing “House Rules” may be easier to accomplish than making a formal lease change.
- Suggest that smoke-free units can be established.
- For current renters, a smoke-free policy can be signed during each renter's lease renewal.
- New renters can start off smoke free.
Step Three: Work with an Outside Authority
- Contact Live Smoke Free
- Live Smoke Free can provide you with information, help you write letters, or suggest further steps to take.
- Consider contacting the following:
- Share your story.
- Research your legal rights.
- Read about some of your rights on the Tenants' Legal Rights page
- Live Smoke Free has a directory of legal aid services that you may qualify for. If you have questions about the services in this directory, contact Live Smoke Free
- Search for an attorney at www.lawhelpmn.org, which is an online directory to legal resources for low-income Minnesotans.