Smokefree Housing Protects People from Secondhand Smoke

The main place that children and adults are exposed to secondhand smoke is in their own home. Exposure to secondhand smoke is unsafe at any level. Yet even for nonsmokers living in multiunit housing (MUH), there is still a risk of being exposed, as is the case for an estimated 28 million residents that encounter secondhand smoke from a neighboring apartment.

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette or other tobacco product and the smoke breathed out by a smoker. When a smoker smokes near someone, they are exposing that person to secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, even if someone is not directly near a person that is smoking, the smoke can still travel into an apartment from other areas passing through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, ventilation systems and plumbing. HVAC systems and open windows cannot eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke and can even accelerate the spread of the smoke throughout the building.

Secondhand smoke exposure can cause children to experience Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), lung problems, asthma attacks, and ear infections. Among adults, it can cause heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

Adopting a smoke free policy in multiunit housing can save money and improve health. Millions of dollars could be saved that is spent on fire damage and cleaning related to smoke removal. Smoke free policies could improve air quality, reduce secondhand smoke exposure and reduce smoking in youth and adults.

If you are an apartment owner or manager, find out more about what you can do to help your tenants at You can contact us at Human Response Network for help adopting and implementing non-smoking policies at your properties. Email us at or call us at (530)623-2024.