Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does a smokefree policy unfairly discriminate against smokers? 
A: No. Smokers are not a legally protected group or class. Smoking is a chosen behavior, not an inherent characteristic, like sex, race or ethnicity. There is no “right to smoke” under any state or federal law. You, as the property owner, have the right to adopt policies that protect your investment and the health of your tenants.

Q: Will I lose money by implementing a smokefree policy?
A: No, quite the opposite. Smokefree policies SAVE you money. A unit where smoking is allowed can cost you two to seven times as much to turnover as a smokefree unit would cost. This translates to anywhere between $500 to $4000 MORE than the average cost per turnover due to increased labor, paint, carpeting, laminate, fixture and furniture replacement. In multi-unit apartment complexes, this can translate into dollar savings in the tens of thousands each year. A smokefree policy may also help save you money on property casualty insurance, and will reduce your risk of fire. Smoking-related fires are the number one cause of home fire deaths and one of the top causes of residential property damage.

Q: Will I lose interested tenants if I institute a smokefree policy?
A: The majority of renters want to live in a smokefree residence, non-smokers and smokers included and remember, 83.3% of Vermonters do not smoke! In addition, people are used to smoking outside, since Vermont workplace and public place laws require these venues to be smokefree.

Q: I have a large property and I don’t think enforcement is going to be possible. Is this true?
A: No. Smokefree policies are largely self-enforcing and there is far more anxiety prior to policy implementation than after. Staff time spent on enforcement of a smokefree policy will likely be less than time spent mediating disputes between smoking and non-smoking tenants when there is no smokefree policy. If a smokefree policy is properly announced residents will follow it, like any other policy requirement. Remember, most tenants want to live in smokefree housing, so when there is a particular violator in your building, you are likely to hear about it from the non-smoking and/or rule abiding tenants. Reminding tenants of the rules is also crucial to a successful policy. Signage placement around the building makes it clear to all occupants and visitors that smoking is not permitted.

Q: My building is equipped with commercial ventilation systems and units are well sealed. Does secondhand smoke still pose a threat?
A: Yes. Ventilation systems are designed to remove odors, not the toxins found in tobacco smoke. On June 30, 2005, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) issued their latest position document on secondhand smoke stating: “At present, the only means of effectively eliminating the health risk associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity.”

Regardless of sealing methods or ventilation systems, there is likely significant air exchange between even the best sealed units. Studies have measured as much as 65% of air exchanged between units.