In a move aimed at providing healthier homes, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) unveiled a smoke-free housing tool kit for property owners.

The toolkit includes information to implement a no-smoking policy and a sample resident survey.

The information can used by any multifamily owner or landlord whether they operate federally assisted housing or private market-rate apartments, said Sandra Henriquez, HUD assistant secretary for public and Indian housing.

Since 2009, HUD has been urging public housing authorities (PHAs) to adopt smoke-free building policies. More than 300 agencies, approximately 10 percent of all PHAs in the country, have done so, according to Henriquez.

The new toolkit offers owners several reasons to explore smoke-free housing, including reducing operating costs. Apartment turnover costs can be two to seven times greater when smoking is allowed compared with maintaining and turning over a smoke-free unit. 

According to one survey of housing authorities and subsidized housing facilities in New England, the general cleaning costs of a nonsmoking unit is $240 compared with $720 for a unit where there has been heavy smoking.

Some insurance firms also offer a discount when there is a no-smoking policy.

The toolkit also notes that several surveys have shown that as many as 78 percent of tenants would choose to live in a smoke-free complex. It advises owners to advertise their buildings as smoke-free and to inform potential tenants about the policy.

When it comes to existing structures with residents, HUD said owners can consider offering some type of cessation services to the tenants to quit smoking.

HUD and its partners also released a toolkit for residents to learn about smoke-free policies.

Henriquez was joined by officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), American Lung Association, and American Academy of Pediatrics, who emphasized the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke.

“There’s no safe level of exposure,” said Dr. Howard Koh, HHS assistant secretary for health. “Breathing even a little secondhand smoke is dangerous.”

The owners’ toolkit can be found at