Impact of smoke-free housing policy lease exemptions on compliance, enforcement and smoking behavior: A qualitative study

Pamela Kaufman, Julie Kang, Ryan David Kennedy, Pippa Beck, Roberta Ferrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


This paper investigates the impacts of smoke-free housing policies on compliance, enforcement and smoking behavior. From 2012 to 2014, we studied two affordable housing providers in Canada with comprehensive smoke-free policies: Waterloo Regional Housing that required new leases to be non-smoking and exempted existing leases, and Yukon Housing Corporation that required all leases (existing and new) to be non-smoking. Focus groups and key informant interviews were conducted with 31 housing and public health staff involved in policy development and implementation, and qualitative interviews with 56 tenants. Both types of smoke-free policies helped tenants to reduce and quit smoking. However, exempting existing tenants from the policy created challenges for monitoring compliance and enforcing the policy, and resulted in ongoing tobacco smoke exposure. Moreover, some new tenants were smoking in exempted units, which undermined the policy and maintained smoking behavior. Our findings support the implementation of complete smoke-free housing policies that do not exempt existing leases to avoid many of the problems experienced by staff and tenants. In jurisdictions where exempting existing leases is still required by law, adequate staff resources for monitoring and enforcement, along with consistent and clear communication (particularly regarding balconies, patios and outdoor spaces) will encourage compliance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Housing
  • Qualitative research
  • Smoke-free policy
  • Smoking cessation
  • Tobacco smoke pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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