Smoke-free Housing Information for Condo Owners


Condo owners are affected by secondhand smoke in the same way as apartment tenants. Secondhand smoke drifts from one condo to the next and enters indoor living spaces from people smoking outdoors, on patios and balconies.

To learn more and share your reasons for supporting smoke-free housing with others, download the following infographics:

Why Go Smoke-free?

There is no known ventilation system that can completely remove secondhand smoke. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE):

  • It can't be eliminated by separating smokers from non-smokers, using air-cleaning technologies or ventilating buildings.
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems can also spread secondhand smoke throughout a building.

Smoke-free Rules Protect Everyone's Health

  • In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General released a report stating conclusively there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Secondhand smoke drifts throughout buildings and enters units through crawl spaces, light fixtures and walls.
  • ASHRAE encourages smoke-free policies as “the only way to effectively eliminate health risks associated with indoor exposure.” A “no-smoking” rule is not a “no smokers” rule. Going smoke-free simply maintains health and safety standards for all residents, and establishes guidelines for where smoking is not allowed.

Smoke-free Housing Protects Your Investment

  • Smoke-free housing is the norm. About 92 percent of renters prefer smoke-free housing and about 88 percent of all Washingtonians do not allow smoking in their homes.
  • Residential fires started by smoking materials cause more injuries, deaths and major property damage than any other type of fire.
  • Smoke-free housing can preserve resale value. For some prospective buyers, a home with smoking in its past can be a deal breaker.1
  • It's also more sustainable. It takes less time and materials to restore a unit that is smoke-free.2

Make Your Condo Building Smoke-free

Start by learning how decisions are made in your condo. You might find information on the process for changing rules in your condo association's by-laws. Once you are familiar with the process, you can:

  • Get to know your neighbors and talk about building issues. See if they also have concerns about secondhand smoke.
  • If other residents share your concerns, build support for a no-smoking rule by sharing useful information such as the infographics above.

Decide together what the right approach or rule would be for your building. Condos can make the entire property smoke-free or decide to not allow smoking within 25 feet of windows and doors. When you're ready, approach the condo board. Work with the board to follow the appropriate steps to be added to the agenda of a board meeting and ultimately changing building rules.

For more help, you can also review Legal Options for Condo Owners (PDF), developed by the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium.


  1. Healthy Homes Manual: Smoke-Free Policies in Multiunit Housing (PDF), National Center for Environmental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed May 2012
  2. Reasons to Explore Smoke-free Housing (PDF), National Center for Healthy Housing, 2009.