In Cheshire County, smoking is a significant health risk factor for youth and adults who smoke, as well as those exposed to second-hand smoke. In New Hampshire, at least eight of every ten adults are nonsmokers (of the adults that do smoke, nearly 70 percent want to quit). In Cheshire County, the number of smokers is slightly lower than the state average. Despite the fact that there are fewer smokers than nonsmokers, the dangers of second-hand smoke are very real, particularly in the home (including multi-unit housing) and in workplaces.
One strategy to reduce tobacco use and exposure to second hand smoke is to increase the stock of smoke-free and tobacco-free housing units in the region.
The Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities (CCTFC), a Healthy Monadnock partner, adopted the strategy and set a goal to increase the number of smoke free properties.
CCTFC created a “Landlord Toolkit” to help property owners easily develop smoke-free housing policies. The toolkit includes everything a property owner needs to implement a smoke-free lease, including sample documents. In addition, property owners learn about:
- The significant dangers of second-hand smoke to other tenants and families in buildings/homes.
- The benefits of creating smoke-free housing. Research shows the advantage of smoke-free housing for property owners and managers is substantial: Smoke-free housing has significantly lower turnover costs and reduced fire risks.
CCTFC also created an online directory of smoke-free housing units for non-smokers to access easily. The directory was offered for free to any property owner with smoke free housing stock.
All public and subsidized housing units in the City of Keene are now 100 percent smoke-free. To date, there are 1,826 smoke-free units in the Monadnock Region; these units represent 5,000 people (including children) who are now protected from breathing second-hand smoke in their homes.
As a direct result of CCTFC’s work, there has been a state-level change that now requires any public housing project to have a smoke-free policy to receive state funding for construction or improvements. The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority has ruled that all future units built using the states Low Income Housing Tax Credit will be required to be 100 percent smoke-free. This change makes New Hampshire one of only five states in the nation to have such a requirement.
Our local successes have been validated at the national level, too. On February 3, 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) final rule to restrict smoking in public housing went into effect. The rule requires public housing agencies administering public housing to adopt a smoke-free policy by July 30th, 2018. The policy must prohibit the use of “prohibited tobacco products” in all indoor areas, including individual living units, common areas, administrative office buildings, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of those areas.