Smoke-Free Housing Policy Change Process in Public Health
"Where do I even start?" is a question lots of housing providers may have. You may have questions about whether your agency, staff members and residents are ready for such a move. It can be helpful to see the stages of policy change, some characteristics of those stages, and what next steps can be taken.
The figure below presents activities that can be conducted to move landlords along the stages of change, toward implementing and maintaining smoke-free housing. The five stages of change are:
Each stage of change is described along with suggested activities.
In the pre-contemplation stage, landlords may have never thought about smoke-free housing, have not heard that smoke-free housing is a good idea and/or may not know of anyone else with a smoke-free policy. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the pre-contemplation stage can include the following:
- Identify and meet with agencies who communicate with local landlords.
- Place articles in landlord trade newsletters, and exhibit at trade shows.
- Pursue positive news coverage for properties who have adopted 'no smoking' rules.
- Meet with landlords, and get them thinking about their process. Ask: "Did you know?", and share success stories and information.
- Offer assistance.
In the contemplation stage, landlords may be interested, but not quite ready to change They may be afraid to take action, or they do not know how to go about implementing a policy. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the contemplation stage can include the following:
- Be a resource for landlords who may need help.
- Meet with landlords, and get them thinking about their process. Ask them to spell out the pros and cons of smoke-free housing, and think about where they are on a scale of 1 - 10. Ask: "What will help move you to the next level?"
- Share stories (preferably local) of companies who have successfully implemented smoke-free policies Include statistics of money saved, and the long-term benefits.
- Be sure to follow up, periodically, and offer assistance
In the preparation stage, landlords are usually looking to adopt a policy soon. They are talking about smoke-free policies within the company and talking to other landlords who have policies in place. They may be conducting a tenant survey, or accessing available tools. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the preparation stage can include the following:
- Stay up-to-date with tools and resources available on websites such as, smokefreehousinginfo.com and smokefreehousingnw.org.
- Provide sample lease language, sample tenant letters and enforcement tools.
- Offer to help staff conduct resident meetings to discuss the 'no smoking' rule.
- Offer to help landlords conduct a tenant survey.
In the action stage, landlords are drafting language for leases, addendums and/or house rules. They can begin informing tenants and staff about the new rules/changes. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the action stage can include the following:
- Share enforcement tools with landlords.
- Help landlords with local news coverage, and other positive publicity. Be creative!
- Encourage landlords to put "smoke-free" in ads.
- Share ideas and quotes.
In the maintenance stage, landlords are communicating and enforcing the rule with tenants, putting "smoke-free" in ads as a amenity and collecting positive feedback about reduced costs, the increased number of applicants and resident stories. Potential smoke-free housing activities for local coordinators to conduct in their communities with landlords in the action stage can include the following:
- Continue to encourage landlords to include "smoke-free" language in ads and signage.
- Follow up to check in on how things are going.
- Find and meet with local landlords who have adopted smoke-free policies. Collect quotes and suggestions, and encourage them to share stories of their experience with others.
- Help generate positive publicity by assisting landlords with articles and stories for local housing newsletters that highlight their successful implementation.
This figure was adapted with permission, from material developed by Health In Sight LLC. Used with permission from Oregon Health Authority - Public Health Division.