Smoke-Free Public Housing

 Geaux smoke-free in your housing authority!

Find tools and resources here at Well-Ahead Louisiana! Implementing a smoke-free policy can offer many benefits including reduced turnaround time of vacant units, reduced fire risk and lower maintenance cost.


The smoke-free movement in housing authorities is happening now! Across the U.S. there are a growing number of housing authorities deciding to adopt smoke-free policies for the benefits of resident health and cost savings. In recent years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued notices strongly encouraging public housing authorities to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their units [1],[2]. Currently, HUD is considering a proposed rule requiring public housing authorities across the nation to adopt smoke-free policies. Click here for more information on the proposed rule. 


[1] Change is in the air: An action guide for establishing smoke-free public housing and multifamily properties. (2014). U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved from:

[2] North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services. Smoke-free multi-unit housing North Carolina.  Retrieved from:

Benefits of Geauxing Smoke-Free

Would you like to improve resident health?

There is NO safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Research suggests that individuals with low income living in subsidized housing may have a greater chance of exposure to secondhand smoke because smoking prevalence is higher among low-income populations [1],[2]. Groups that are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of secondhand smoke include children, pregnant women, and the elderly [3]. Air quality experts acknowledge that the only way to truly reduce the health risk from secondhand smoke exposure is to create smoke-free indoor environments [4].

Have you ever considered how long it takes and how much you spend to rehab a unit?

Heavy and moderate smoking can also cause damage to most surfaces and fixtures in the apartments, prolonging the time it takes to rehab a unit. Secondhand smoke can flow into a non-smoker's unit through open windows and under doors; seep between shared walls; and creep through shared ventilation systems, piping, plumbing and even wiring! See the cost of rehabilitating a smoker's unit compared to a non-smoker's unit by clicking here.

Have you ever experienced a smoking-related fire?

Smoking in units can lead to serious damage to the property including smoking-related fires [1]. In 2011 smoking materials such as tobacco products that require a heat source (excluding matches and lighters) caused $516 million in direct property damage and 1,370 civilian injuries. Nineteen percent of home structure fire deaths were attributed to smoking materials [5]. Smoke-free policies in multi-unit housing could reduce the risk of smoking material related fires, damages and deaths by removing these ignition sources from inside the building. 

[1] Pizacani, B., Maher, J. E., Rhode, K., Drach, L., & Stark, M. (2011). Implementation of a smoke-free policy in subsidized multiunit housing: Effects on smoking cessation and secondhand smoke exposure. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 14, 1027-1034.
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Health Division. (2013). A practitioners guide for advancing health equity: Community strategies for preventing chronic disease. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from:
[3] North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services. Smoke-free multi-unit housing North Carolina.  Retrieved from:
[4] Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. (2015). Creating smoke-free affordable housing. Retrieved from:
[5] Hall, J.R. (2013). National Fire Protection Association. Smoking-material fire problem. Retrieved from: 

[1] Change is in the air: An action guide for establis

[1] Change is in the air: An action guide for establis

State Resources to Help Individuals Quit Smoking

Quit resources, also known as tobacco cessation resources, are treatments to help people quit tobacco use. These treatments can involve the combination of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, medications and/or group and individual counseling. 

Resources for Staff and Residents:

For more information on quitting resources in Louisiana, click here.

Geaux Smoke-Free Housing Materials

We have created a smoke-free housing guide to assist you in the process of becoming smoke-free properties.


Smoke-Free Housing Guide


Refer below to link to editable versions of sample documents in the Smoke-Free Housing Toolkit:

Sample Resident Survey 

Sample Policy and Lease Addendum 

Sample Notice to Residents 

Sample  Compliance Letter 

Sample Complaint Form

Webinar Series: Tips and Tricks for Implementing Smoke-Free Housing

Implementing a smoke-free policy in your housing authority may seem overwhelming, but it's easier than you think.  In partnership with Well-Ahead Louisiana, smoke-free housing expert, Kristen Hernandez-Ortega, is hosting a series of webinars that will help you navigate the process.  The webinars are pre-recorded and are available below at no cost.


Webinar 1: Resident Engagement

Let’s get started geauxing smoke-free! Creating a smoke-free environment in your public housing authority can decrease the costs associated with rehabilitating a unit, decrease the chances of a smoking-related fire and improve resident health.  Involving residents throughout the entire process of geauxing smoke-free can significantly improve the process of implementing a smoke-free policy. 

In this webinar, you will: 
>> Learn how to implement a resident survey. 
>> Learn how to communicate your new smoke-free policy to residents and staff.
>> Learn about technical support provided by Well-Ahead Louisiana.

To access the webinar recording, click here

Webinar 2: Connecting Residents Quit Resources

Did you know? Seven out of every ten smokers want to quit smoking. A smoke-free policy does not require your residents to quit smoking to continue living in their home. But, if residents are provided the right cessation resources, many will view your new smoke-free policy as an opportunity to quit smoking completely. Learn how you can be a quit resource for your residents.  

In this webinar, you will:

>> Learn how and when to refer your residents to the Louisiana Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW).

>> Learn about additional statewide cessation resources. Many are free and readily available!

>> Learn how Louisiana’s tobacco control partners work together to create smoke-free air for all. 


To access the webinar recording, click here


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is secondhand smoke?

Secondhand smoke is the smoke emitted from burning tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Secondhand smoke is also the smoke that has been exhaled, or breathed out, by the person smoking [1]. Tobacco smoke has been known to contain more 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer [1]. 

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Secondhand Smoke Facts. Retrieved from

Why should my public housing authority implement a smoke-free policy?

A smoke-free policy is a great way to protect your property from damage, fires, and excessive wear and tear. You will save money on turnover costs because apartments will cost less to clean, repair and repaint.

An indoor smoke-free policy will also improve resident health, as there is NO safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. 

How do we prepare for a smoke-free policy?

Engage your residents!

Involving residents throughout the entire process of geauxing smoke free can help with the implementation of the smoke-free policy. Surveying your residents could be a great way to see their support of a smoke-free policy. If support is low, you can still implement a policy, but it is recommended to factor in more time in your timeline for resident education. 

How do you write a smoke-free policy?

Adopt a policy that best fits your property. Well-Ahead Louisiana is here to help! We can help your staff to think through the policy options that can lead to an effective policy and minimize resident pushback. Remember, you know your residents best!

How do you enforce a smoke-free policy?

Responses from housing uthorities across the nation that have gone smoke-free say they enforce the policy just like any other lease rule or regulation [1]. There are a variety of noted strategies to support resident compliance. Before implementation, ensure you clean up cigarette butts and remove ashtrays. Put the smoke-free policy in the lease addendum and have tenants sign it. Engage your residents and communicate that the policy is to improve the quality of air in their home and decrease the risk of fire. 

[1] Change is in the air: An action guide for establishing smoke-free public housing and multifamily properties. (2014). U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Retrieved from: 

Is it legal for me to ban smoking on the property?

Have additional questions? >>Contact the smoke-free housing leader!