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Comparative Study
, 18 (5), 1282-1289

Assessment of Residents' Attitudes and Satisfaction Before and After Implementation of a Smoke-Free Policy in Boston Multiunit Housing

Comparative Study

Assessment of Residents' Attitudes and Satisfaction Before and After Implementation of a Smoke-Free Policy in Boston Multiunit Housing

Slawa Rokicki et al. Nicotine Tob Res.


Introduction: In 2012, the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) in Massachusetts implemented a smoke-free policy prohibiting smoking within its residences. We sought to characterize BHA resident experiences before and after the smoke-free policy implementation, and compare them to that of nearby residents of the Cambridge Housing Authority, which had no such policy.

Methods: We recruited a convenience sample of nonsmoking residents from the BHA and Cambridge Housing Authority. We measured residents' awareness and support of their local smoking policies before and 9-12 months after the BHA's policy implementation, as well as BHA respondents' attitudes towards the smoke-free policy. We assessed tobacco smoke exposure via saliva cotinine, airborne apartment nicotine, and self-reported number of days smelling smoke in the home. We evaluated predictors of general satisfaction at follow-up using linear regression.

Results: At follow-up, 91% of BHA respondents knew that smoking was not allowed in apartments and 82% were supportive of such a policy in their building. BHA residents believed enforcement of the smoke-free policy was low. Fifty-one percent of BHA respondents indicated that other residents "never" or "rarely" followed the new smoke-free rule and 41% of respondents were dissatisfied with policy enforcement. Dissatisfaction with enforcement was the strongest predictor of general housing satisfaction, while objective and self-reported measures of tobacco smoke exposure were not predictive of satisfaction. At follow-up, 24% of BHA participants had complained to someone in charge about policy violations.

Conclusions: Resident support for smoke-free policies is high. However, lack of enforcement of smoke-free policies may cause frustration and resentment among residents, potentially leading to a decrease in housing satisfaction.

Implications: Smoke-free housing laws are becoming increasingly prevalent, yet little is known about satisfaction and compliance with such policies post-implementation. We evaluated nonsmoking residents' attitudes about smoke-free rules and their satisfaction with enforcement 1 year after the BHA implemented its comprehensive smoke-free policy. We found that while residents were supportive of the policy, they believed enforcement was low, a perception that was associated with a drop in housing satisfaction. Our findings point to a desire for smoke-free housing among public housing residents, and the importance of establishing systems and guidelines to help landlords monitor and enforce these policies effectively.

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