Purpose: In most states, smoking has been curtailed to some extent in public buildings, workplaces, and restaurants. The next frontier for smoke-free policies is the multiunit dwelling industry. However, the extent to which smoke-free housing currently is available is unknown. The purpose of this study was to measure the market for smoke-free housing in Virginia and to identify barriers to adopting smoke-free policies.
Design: Telephone interviews were conducted with property managers of rental apartments, townhouses, senior housing, and public housing in four Virginia cities.
Setting: Four cities in Virginia.
Subjects: Two hundred sixty-three property managers in four cities in Virginia (approximately 75 property managers per city).
Measures: Property managers were administered a brief telephone survey.
Results: Only 33.8% of property managers reported some type of smoke-free policy, with only 15% of those policies prohibiting smoking in residential units. Most property managers without a smoke-free policy were not considering adopting such a policy for a variety of reasons.
Conclusion: The availability of smoke-free multiunit dwellings is severely lacking. This study identified a number of science-based and legal misperceptions that may prevent the adoption of smoke-free policies. Correction of these misperceptions is warranted to increase the availability of smoke-free housing. Such policies will be useful in creating environments that support good health practices while simultaneously protecting tenants from exposure to secondhand smoke.