Ensuring Compliance: A Guide to Enforcement of a Smoke-Free Policy and Reporting Violations
A good policy is one that can, and will be, enforced.
The goal is to keep the smoke from inflicting harm on residents of your buildings, so focus on ways of achieving this goal first and foremost.
There is no “cookie cutter” policy; choose one that meets the needs of your property and protects the health and safety of your residents.
Be sure that your lease includes your smoke-free policy.
Confines of your policy must be outlined in writing.
Provisions related to enforcement of policy must also be defined in your lease.
Ensure all new and renewing tenants sign off/initial on any changes to the lease, including, but not limited to, the smoke-free policy.
Policy can be a provision of a revised lease or an addendum to an existing lease.
Define “smoking” in the lease.
A smoke-free policy is no different than a trash or pet policy and should be enforced in the same manner.
Watch your mouth
“ It’s about the smoke, not the smoker.”
“ A smoke-free policy does not require anyone to quit smoking…”
“ This policy is about protecting everyone, including your neighbors, children/grandchildren and guests.”
Before and after the policy goes into effect, send letters to all tenants outlining the policy change.
Allow 30 days for comments/questions from tenants before policy goes into effect.
Post-policy implementation letters are meant as a reminder to all those under lease, what the provision entails, including enforcement.
Signage sends a clear message to all tenants, guests and maintenance people that your building/property is smoke-free.
Place signs/posters in all common areas and near all common entrances to the building.
If you choose to have designated smoking areas define these locations with signage or markings as well.
Pre-policy anxiety far exceeds reality
Instead, expect the best but prepare for the worst.
Remember, if people like where they live they will abide by policies that keep them in their home.
A good tenant will remain a good tenant, but a tenant who is already violating your lease can’t be expected to be any more or less compliant when new policies are adopted.
People are used to ‘taking it outside’ and understand the risks associated with tobacco smoke, especially on children and the elderly.
Most people DON’T smoke, despite perception (<19% of Maine adults).
78% of smokers and non-smokers surveyed report they want to live in a smoke-free environment.
Smoke travels, thus if a violation occurs your tenants will know about it.
Since most of your tenants want to live in a smoke-free environment, they will report to you violations when they see (and smell) them.
People have a personal investment—their health and the health of their families—to ensure a smoke-free policy is abided.
People will only comply with rules being enforced.
One reason tenants call the Coalition is that they have moved into a building with a smoke-free policy that the landlord refuses to enforce.
Loss of rule abiding and non-smoking tenants
Do not ignore complaints from tenants or reports from staff regarding infractions.
Have a system in place for addressing an infraction involving smoking should one occur.
Address infractions promptly, amicably and uniformly, sending a consistent message to all tenants and guests.
It is important to document all infractions and keep them on file for the entirety of one’s tenancy.
In the event you need to collect fees, hold security deposit, or go to court due to smoking infractions it is imperative you have proof of violations (written/photos).
Example of documentation forms
While a smoke-free policy is about the smoke, not the smoker, it has the added benefit of motivating tobacco users to quit.
Provide information on low- and no-cost cessation services provided in your area.
In Maine, contact the Maine Tobacco HelpLine at 1-800-207-1234 for free telephonic counseling and access to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).
Holding security deposit
FREE smoke-free housing registry for landlords & tenants in ME
Landlord brochure, fact sheets, packets, training video- all downloadable from site
Tenant fact sheets in several languages-downloadable from site
Magnets, key chains & window clings for Maine landlords
Call (207) 874-8774 or [email_address] for technical assistance
Copies of this presentation at www.slideshare.net/breatheeasy
You Have Resources
Smoke-Free Housing Webinar Series: Session 5
Advocating for Smoke-Free Policies: A Guide for Community Organizers and Public Health Professionals
When: Thursday, June 3, 2010
Host: Tina Pettingill, MPH
The Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine has had one of the strongest smoke-free housing advocacy programs in the country since our inception in 2003. Apart from our strong voluntary coalition and the support of our state and communities, it is the consistency of our messaging that has lead to this great reputation and successful initiative. Coalition staff will speak to the inclusive, consistent messaging that landlords, tenants and community organizers use in the successful passing of smoke-free policies and how such communications help to ensure compliance.
Register by visiting: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/651382769