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How To Go Smoke Free


Making your home or ​building(s) smoke-free can be done in 3 steps:

  1. Develop a policy
  2. Communicate with staff, tenants and visitors about the policy, and train staff on the policy and their responsibilities for enforcement
  3. Implement the policy

Step 1. Develop a policy

A smoke-free housing policy needs to include:

  • A definition of smoking stating which products will not be allowed
  • Exactly where smoking will not be allowed
  • That the policy will apply to anyone that enters the property
  • Consequences of violating the policy
  • The policy's effective date

See an example of a policy in a sample lease addendum​. 


Step 2. Communicate about the policy


Legal communication requirements. Be compliant with legal requirements for providing adequate notice to tenants.  Provide at least 30 days notice before the end of a lease (60 days for Section 8).  See a sample Notice of Rule Change​.


Start early. As you are developing your policy, educate residents about the decision to go smoke-free and conduct a survey. Some residents may not like the idea of going smoke-free, but they will appreciate the chance to be heard.

​Use multiples forms of communication to share information about the new policy For example:

  • A letter or email notifying them of the upcoming change (if all tenants have email addresses)​
  • Host a building meeting
  • Have ​one-on-one conversations
  • Flyers
  • Building notices​


Train staff about the policy change, including their responsibilities.*


Advertise your residential listings as smoke-free. Smoke-free housing is popular and may attract even more attention to your property. When showing a unit to a potential renter, explain the property's smoke-free policy. 

Include information about the smoke-free policy on all housing applications.


Tell tenants and their guests, employees, service and health providers, vendors, potential tenants and others who enter the building about the  smoke-free policy.  Post signs within the building letting potential tenants and other visitors know that the property is smoke-free (order free signs​).


Step 3. Implement the policy​

Implementing a smoke-free policy is handled the same way as any other lease or lease modification.

Modify leases

Choose one effective date and before that date, develop a no-smoking lease addendum that includes the effective date of the policy.

Existing tenants

Provide existing residents with a copy of the no-smoking lease addendum before their leases renew and tell them it will become part of their lease.

If you are concerned about tenants who may have difficulty going outside to smoke, consider moving them to a vacant unit on the first floor or closer to an exit or elevator (if available), to help them with complying (i.e., make it easier for them to get outside).

New tenants

Provide new tenants with a lease or the lease addendum, including information about the property's smoke-free policy.

Maintaining a Smoke-Free Environment

Maintaining smoke-free housing requires ensuring that tenants understand the policy and the consequences of not following it and enforcing the policy consistently from the start.  Respond to smoke-free policy violations the same way you treat other lease violations (e.g., noise, late rent, etc.), using the same warnings.

Also, make sure the property looks and smells smoke-free:

  • Keep smoke-free signs posted and easy to read
  • Replace signs if necessary.
  • Clean up cigarette butts
  • Inspect the building or property regularly to look and smell for signs of smoking. Consider more frequent inspections during the first year to ensure resident compliance and establish expectations.


For more information, download A Landlord's Guide to Smoke-Free Housing

Find sample documents​ you can adapt and use.

* Free 
resources​ and help

If you are thinking about or planning to make your property smoke-free, the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) can help. BPHC offers free help and support with smoke-free housing, including:

  • Answering questions and troubleshooting by phone any issues related to smoke-free housing
  • Conducting trainings for building staff
  • ​Attending resident meetings and speaking about health consequences of secondhand smoke exposure and resources for quitting smoking

Contact us at​ or 617-534-4718.


​The information on this page is provided for educational purposes only and is not to be taken as legal opinion or as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Readers with questions about the application of the law to specific facts are encouraged to consult an attorney.


Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: