Background: Tenants in multiunit housing are at elevated risk for exposure to secondhand smoke at home because of smoke migration from other units.
Community context: In 2004, tobacco control advocates in the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area began to address this issue by launching a campaign to work with landlord and tenant advocates, private- and public-sector property managers, and other housing stakeholders to encourage smoke-free policies in multiunit housing.
Methods: We outline the 6-year campaign that moved local housing providers toward adopting no-smoking policies. We used the stages of change model, which matches potential messages or interventions to a smoker's readiness to quit smoking.
Outcome: The campaign resulted in Oregon's largest private property management company and its largest public housing authority adopting no-smoking policies for their properties and a 29% increase in the availability of smoke-free rental units in the Portland-Vancouver metro area from 2006 through 2009.
Interpretation: We learned the importance of building partnerships with public and private stakeholders, collecting local data to shape educational messages, and emphasizing to landlords the business case, not the public health rationale, for smoke-free housing.