For Boston - Smoke Free Public Housing Question

Boston: What suggestions do you have for overcoming opposition to
adopting and implementing smoke-free housing policies in public housing?
Many of our coalition members are concerned about these policies,
especially in low-income or rent controlled housing due to the threat of
eviction. They feel that if low income residents are evicted for their
addiction, they will be homeless.


Thank you!


There is a lot of on-line guidance for creating a good process. You can go to our website and get some guidance. I suggest you first survey residents, based on all the surveying that has been done, nationally, I expect you will find more support among residents than your coalition anticipates. Maybe using that process to identify some leaders who are willing to speak out on the issue.


Also, continuously communicating that a smoke free policy is not a smoker free policy. Residents can smoke, they can’t smoke in the buildings. These policies are enforced like all other tenancy policies, the landlord needs to articulate the process and then be consistent. Nationally, I have only heard of one eviction and most housing authorities report that it is largely self enforcing.


Finally, we chose not to focus on public housing residents alone, but across the housing market, so as not to appear to be targeting low income people, but we do present it as an equity issue. The truth is if you are high income, you can find a smoke free building to live in, it is more challenging for low and moderate income people.



Good luck.

One thing that has helped in some communities is the type of resident survey Margaret mentioned: the finding in Boston (and other communities) that residents, even smokers, prefer the ban is important. In addition to the health impacts on residents, including in neighboring units, and fire hazards, the costs to housing authorities due to smoking are significant. In particular the cost to renovate after a tenant who has smoked.