Smoke-Free Housing Saves Lives and Money

November 28, 2017

Did you know, in the fall of 2017, fires from cigarettes caused over $3,000,000 in damage to housing property in Lincoln, according to Lincoln Fire and Rescue (LFR)?  Smoking is a leading cause of residential fire in Lincoln according to LFR and the number one cause of fire deaths in the United States, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.  One proven step landlords and property owners can take to protect against fire is to establish a smoke-free housing policy.


Federal, State or local law does not prohibit property owner from establishing and enforcing a smoke-free policy for their buildings or grounds. Establishing a policy does not preclude someone who smokes from living in the building, it simply requires that all tenants abide by the policy while on the property.  In 2018, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will be implementing smoke-free policies in all of its public housing, including prohibiting smoking within 25 feet of residential buildings.


Many owners fear they will lose tenants if they implement a smoke-free policy. In Lancaster County, approximately 15% of citizens smoke and of those 15%, over half prefer smoke-free housing, according to the Adult Tobacco Survey.  Owners and managers of multi-unit housing have found changing to a smoke-free policy reduces the secondhand smoke complaints, and requests for unit transfers also drop following establishment of a smoke-free policy.


In addition to the protection from smoking related fires, smoke-free policies can save money in reduced maintenance costs. The cost of rehabilitating a smoking unit can be nearly seven times that of rehabilitating a smoke-free unit.  Some insurance companies offer discounts on property casualty insurance for multi-unit owners with a 100% smoke-free policy.


For more information on developing a smoke-free housing policy for your facility, or if you would like to serve on a smoke-free housing task force, please contact Christina Hitz at the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department at 402-441-6224 or