Smoke-free housing is a growing trend in Iowa and in the nation. It is a great time to go smoke-free! To decide if going smoke-free is right for you, learn more and navigate key topics for smoke-free housing.

Benefits of Going Smoke Free

Many renters know secondhand smoke is toxic, containing over 7,000 chemicals including 70 known to cause cancer. More than 1 in 3 nonsmokers who live in rental housing are exposed to secondhand smoke and more than 82% of surveyed renters in Iowa understand that exposure to secondhand smoke presents a serious health risk.

Market Demand

According to the 2016 survey of property managers and renters in Iowa, 87% of renters surveyed answered that they would be likely to choose a smoke-free apartment building over one that allows smoking. 96% of respondents who reported inhaling or smelling secondhand smoke in their unit considered it a nuisance.

Indoor Air Quality

Research shows that air flows between units in apartments and ventilation systems, air purifiers or “sealing” problem areas cannot completely eliminate or control secondhand smoke. The only way to eliminate secondhand smoke is by implementing a smoke-free policy.

In 2010, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) released a position document on secondhand smoke. ASHRAE encourages the elimination of smoking in the indoor environment as the optimal way to minimize secondhand smoke exposure.

Cleaning Costs

The cost to clean and renovate a unit that has been smoked in, typically costs 2 to 3 times, and some research suggests even 7 times more than a unit not damaged by secondhand smoke. According to a 2016 survey of property managers and landlords in Iowa, it costs on average $1,322 more to clean a unit that has been smoked in compared to a unit where a non-smoker lived.

Nicotine and other chemicals in secondhand smoke leaves sticky residue and yellow stains on walls, carpet, blinds, appliances, and other surfaces. Dropped cigarettes and ashes can leave burn damage and smoke odors can remain in carpets, curtains, and walls for a very long time. This damage results in excessive cleaning costing you time and money without even guaranteeing stains, burn marks and odor will be eliminated.

Fire Risk

Dropped cigarettes or cigarettes improperly disposed of are a fire hazard and a cigarette can smolder for up to 30-45 minutes, eventually causing a fire or large amounts of smoke. Cigarettes and other smoking materials are also the leading cause of residential fire deaths in the United States. By implementing a smoke-free policy, you are reducing the risk of cigarette-related fires, injury and death as well as reducing the risk of increased insurance premiums if a fire were to happen.

Smoke Free Homes and the State Fire Marshal Division have a close relationship working together to help Iowans. They work to collaborate together to create awareness and provide education on fire safety, how to eliminate secondhand smoke, and the importance of smoke-free properties.

How to Go Smoke Free

Implementing your smoke-free policy can be simple with the help of resources provided by Iowa Smoke Free Homes. Review the steps below and refer to the Guidebook for Property Managers for more detail. You may also contact your local Smoke Free Homes expert for assistance and resources.

  1. Survey Your Tenants Inform your tenants that you are considering adopting a smoke-free policy and why. Survey current residents using the sample survey provided by Iowa Smoke Free Homes, or create your own, to gather feedback.

  2. Create Your Policy Draft your smoke-free policy and seek guidance from your legal consultant, management company, and any other key stakeholders within your organizational structure. See 'Tools & Resources' for a sample lease addendum.

  3. Implement Your Policy Announce the date your policy will go into effect. You can choose a “phase-in” approach by having new residents, or residents renewing their lease, sign the smoke-free addendum up until a certain date when the policy would be effective for all residents. You can also choose a “quit-date” approach by setting a date by which all residents must sign and abide by the smoke-free addendum.

    • Post signage to ensure compliance with the policy among tenants, visitors, and staff. See the Iowa Smoke Free Homes website for examples of signs that you may be eligible to receive for free.

  4. Advertise Submit your policy to the Smoke Free Homes property listing or share your policy information with your local Iowa Smoke Free Homes contact to ensure your property(s) is listed on the Iowa Smoke Free Homes property listing. Your property(s) will appear when renters search for smoke free housing in your area.

  5. Follow up Survey tenants 60 to 90 days after the implementation of the policy. This will support management/tenant relations and support compliance and enforcement. You can find a sample follow-up letter and survey under tools and resources on the Iowa Smoke Free Homes website.