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Why Smoke Free Homes

Smoke-free housing benefits everyone with clean air and safer homes.

Most people spend more time at home than at work or school—close to 15 hours a day on average.  Children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses, who are more vulnerable to the health and safety risks of indoor smoking – tend to spend the most time at home – and are at greatest risk.

Fire Safety​​

Smoke-free housing is safer than housing where smoking is allowed. 


Smoking in the home is a leading cause of home fires that kill people in the U.S.  It is especially dangerous because lit cigarettes or other smoking products may come into contact with flammable furniture, bedding, curtains, clothes, and other items, and start a fire.


There are even greater risks in buildings with many elderly or disabled residents that may not be able to escape in the event of a fire.  In fact, close to half of all deaths from smoking-related fires in homes are people over the age of 65.


People who use home oxygen, which is very flammable, are at serious risk from smoking near it because oxygen can explode – even when it is off – if a fire or spark is near it. 


Smoke-free housing is also healthier than housing where smoking is allowed.


Secondhand smoke* is dangerous to everyone's health.

  • Secondhand smoke has 250 toxic gases and tiny particles, including 70 that cause cancer
  • The U.S. Surgeon General has said that there is no safe amount of exposure to it

Repeated exposure to secondhand smoke causes greater health risks, including:

  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Heart attacks
  • Stroke​


* Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke is smoke that is inhaled from someone else's smoking.  Secondhand smoke indoors is dangerous and harmful to others because it moves throughout the building to other rooms and apartments and affects other tenants.

Smoke can travel through ventilation, air conditioning and heating systems, cracks and openings in lighting and plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, and under doors.

Because the toxic gases and particles from secondhand smoke can't be removed by ventilation or fans or by opening windows, the only way to prevent exposure inside is with smoke-free policies.

Smoking outside near windows or doors can also bring smoke into a building. This is why most smoke-free housing policies don't let tenants smoke near doors and windows.

If you or someone you know is interested in quitting smoking, see our quitting-smoking resources.

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