How to Go Smoke-free


95 percent of Washington landlords who have gone smoke-free report being satisfied with their decision–and the vast majority say no-smoking rules are easy to implement and easy to enforce.

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

Consider these steps to guide you in the process to going smoke-free.

1. Develop the No-smoking Policy

Be as specific as possible when developing your no-smoking rule and including it in your lease language. You can make your entire property smoke-free, including indoor and outdoor common areas, individual units and private decks and patios. Consider the following in your lease language:

  • Where smoking is not allowed (indoors and out)
  • Who it applies to (residents, guests, staff, service persons, etc.)
  • The definition of smoking
  • Effective dates for new and current residents
  • Consequences for violations

A 100 percent smoke-free property will have the biggest impact on reducing cleaning and repair costs, reducing fire risk and making the building healthier for residents.

2. Communicate with Residents

Ensuring residents are fully informed will help them understand the building is going smoke-free and set expectations for compliance. Washington state law requires that you let residents know at least 30 days before changing any rules-and a longer period can help people adapt and improve compliance. One way to inform residents is to send out a notification letter, including:

  • What the rule covers
  • Reasons for going smoke-free (reducing fire risk, improving health, protecting the property, etc.)
  • Effective dates
  • Resources for quitting smoking such as the free Washington State Tobacco Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW,

Consider sending or posting a handout describing the new change, including the Secondhand Smokes You infographic (PDF). Once you've communicated the rule, prepare to have residents sign a lease addendum on the date you go smoke-free or upon lease renewal. For prospective residents, make sure to advertise your property as smoke-free. Explain the rule clearly then and again at lease signing.

3. Apply the Rule

How you apply a no-smoking rule will depend on the type of leases you have in your building.

New leases

For residents who move in on or after the effective date of the no-smoking rule, include the rule in all new leases.

Current leases

You can add the no-smoking rule when a lease expires, during lease renewal, or give residents at least 30 days' notice before you change the rules and ask residents to sign a lease addendum.

Month-to-month leases

Residents on a month-to-month lease require 30 days' notice before a policy change. The no-smoking rule can go into effect on the first day of the lease term (the day rent is due) after notice.

4. Enforce the Rule

Three out of four Washington state landlords who have gone smoke-free say it's easy to enforce. You can enforce your no-smoking rule like any other rule:

  • Include it in the rental agreement.
  • Tell residents about it during the application phase and at move-in.
  • Post signs and stickers to remind residents and guests.
  • Hold residents financially responsible for bringing the unit back to its original condition.
  • Use the same warnings and penalties for the no-smoking rule as you do for other rules, like candles, pets or rent payment.
  • Respond promptly to complaints about violations.
  • Follow the terms of your lease to guide enforcement.