Landlord Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Smoke-Free Policies: Implications for Voluntary Policy Change

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Objective: The study purpose was to describe multiunit landlord attitudes and behaviors toward smoke-free policies.

Design and Sample:

This was a descriptive, cross-sectional survey of multiunit landlords in Douglas County (N=392). Measures: A 25-item survey was developed and pilot tested. It was administered by telephone (n=143) and mail (n=249) to multiunit landlords.


Combined response rate was 30.1% (81/143 telephone, 37/249 mail) representing 24,080 units on 974 properties with 34,399 tenants. Most respondents (73.7%) allowed smoking. Reasons for not implementing smoke-free policies were potential enforcement problems (57.0%), tenant objections (43.0%), loss of market share (39.5%). Respondents without smoke-free policies expected vacancy (53.6%) and turnover (50.0%) rates to increase, which was significantly different (p <.0001) than respondents with smoke-free policies where only 10.7% reported increased vacancy and only 3.7% reported increased turnover.


Expected adverse impacts of smoke-free policies do not reflect real experiences of smoke-free policy implementation. Public health advocates can use these study findings to develop community-based education and social marketing messages directed at voluntary smoke-free policy changes. Respondents without smoke-free policies expressed interest at the end of the survey in learning how to implement smoke-free policies indicating a readiness for change.

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