Attitudes and experiences with secondhand smoke and smoke-free policies among subsidised and market-rate multiunit housing residents living in six diverse communities in the USA

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BackgroundGiven that higher smoking rates persist among lower socioeconomic populations, multiunit housing (MUH) environments may result in higher secondhand smoke (SHS) exposures among subsidised MUH residents. This cross-sectional assessment compares experiences with SHS and smoke-free policies among subsidised and market-rate MUH residents living in six US communities.MethodsMUH residents (n=1565) were surveyed regarding their smoke-free rules (home and building), SHS exposures and preferences towards smoke-free policies. Binary logistic regression identified predictors of each outcome, focusing on differences by subsidised housing status (subsidised vs market rate).ResultsAmong residents enforcing smoke-free home rules (76%, overall), 50% reported SHS incursions into their unit. Only 23% reported living in a smoke-free building; 56% of those living in smoking-allowable buildings reported preferences towards smoke-free building policies. Among market-rate housing residents, smoke-free home (OR=4.18) and building (OR=2.26) rules were significantly higher when children were present. Smoke-free building rules reduced the odds of SHS incursions among market-rate housing residents (OR=0.50), but no association was observed among subsidised housing residents. Non-smoking subsidised housing residents exhibited stronger preferences for smoke-free policies compared with those in market-rate housing.DiscussionSmoke-free home rules may not protect MUH residents from SHS exposures, particularly in subsidised MUH. Although strong preferences towards smoke-free policies were present overall, subsidised MUH residents may have fewer alternative smoke-free housing options available. Therefore, all publicly funded housing should be smoke free to protect these vulnerable populations. However, continued efforts to encourage privately owned MUH operators to adopt smoke-free policies are also necessary.

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