A systematic examination of smoke-free policies in multiunit dwellings in Virginia as reported by property managers: implications for prevention

Am J Health Promot. 2011 Sep-Oct;26(1):37-44. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.091005-QUAN-329.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Public Housing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Cessation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Smoking Prevention*
  • Social Marketing
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control
  • Virginia / epidemiology


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution