Below are answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions about smoke-free housing:
Q: Is smoke-free housing legal?
A: Smoke-free housing is completely legal and does not violate any state or federal fair housing laws. Just as landlords can set rules for their properties, such as no pets or quiet hours, they can also make their properties smoke-free.
Q: Don't people have a right to smoke in their homes? Isn't it a violation of privacy?
A: There is no legally protected right to smoke in multi-unit residences recognized by courts in the state of Massachusetts or anywhere else in the U.S.
Q: Can smokers live in smoke-free properties?
A: A smoke-free rule DOES NOT mean no smokers. Smokers are welcome to live, visit, or work in smoke-free residential properties, provided they abide by the rules.
Q: Can smokers request reasonable accommodations for smoke-free policies (to continue smoking in their units), citing smoking as a disability?
A: Addiction to nicotine is not a qualifying disability under state or federal law. Smoking is also not recognized as a medical treatment for any health condition.
Q: What about e-cigarettes, marijuana, hookahs, and other types of smoking products? Do smoke-free policies apply?
A: Anything that burns and is inhaled (including marijuana, hookahs and other types of products that are smoked) may be included in a smoke-free policy, if your landlord chooses. Some smoke-free policies include e-cigarettes and e-pipes. Please see more about e-cigarettes and marijuana below.
Research about the health effects of e-cigarettes is ongoing. Many landlords are prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in private units, as well as in common areas, to reduce the potential for confusion and make enforcement of the no smoking policy easier. Additionally, at this time, e-cigarettes are not recognized as a medical device to help smokers quit.
Landlords may also prohibit the smoking of marijuana, including medical marijuana, under their smoke-free rule, based on Massachusetts law (105 CMR 725.650). It should be noted that tenants utilizing medical marijuana have options other than smoking it.
Contact us at HealthyHomes@bphc.org or 617-534-4718 with any questions.