Objective: Multiunit housing (MUH) operators may be motivated to adopt smoke-free policies to achieve cost savings. MUH caretakers provide a unique perspective for understanding the implications of smoke-free policies because of their role in property maintenance. We examine MUH caretakers' perceptions regarding the economic and personal impact of smoke-free policies at their properties.
Methods: We conducted and analyzed qualitative interviews with 20 multiunit housing caretakers from two large property management companies in the southeastern United States that had implemented smoke-free policies.
Results: For non-smoking units, caretakers reported shortened turnover times, in addition to reduction in the need for turnover supplies and capital replacements. Caretakers reported an improvement in their work environments due to reduced workload and exposure to secondhand and thirdhand smoke after implementation of smoke-free policies.
Conclusion: The potential for cost savings exists for MUH operators who enact smoke-free policies because of decreased labor, supplies, and capital costs. Smoke-free policies may also improve the work environment of caretakers and other frontline MUH employees. These are important findings for MUH companies seeking to lower their operation costs and improve their employees' working conditions, as well as for smoke-free advocates seeking to promote policy change.
Keywords: multiunit housing; secondhand smoke; smoke-free policy; thirdhand smoke; tobacco control policy.