Smoke-Free Homes

Benefits for tenants

The major benefit of smoke-free housing for tenants is a reduction in exposure to secondhand smoke. Breathing in secondhand smoke has been linked to a number of different diseases, including cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a "known human carcinogen" (cancer-causing agent). To learn more about secondhand smoke, click here.

Even if no one in your home smokes, secondhand smoke can still get into your home. A smoke-free housing policy can help ensure secondhand smoke does not enter your home.

Linn County Public Health can help you if you are suffering from secondhand smoke exposure.

Check out the state's smoke-free website! More resources and information are available there.

Smokefree Air Act

Through Iowa's Smokefree Air Act, smoking is not allowed in enclosed common areas of apartment buildings. The areas include (but are not limited to): reception areas, lobbies, hallways, laundries, elevators, stairways or stairwells, or other areas to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted. Specific no smoking signs are required on all entrances. Although the Smokefree Air Act does not include the units in an apartment building, a landlord may decide to not allow smoking anywhere inside the building (including units).

Secondhand Smoke in Your Apartment?

Here are some steps you can take to help you and your family.

Step one: Assess the problem

1. Try to find out where the secondhand smoke is coming into your unit.

2. Write down the dates and times you notice secondhand smoke coming into your unit.

3. Make a list of ways you have tried to solve the problem.

4. Talk with your neighbors to see if smoke drifts into their apartment too. Ask if they would be willing to talk to the landlord with you.

5. Talk to your doctor about all symptoms and illnesses your family has.

Step two: Talk to the landlord

1. Write a letter to your building manager or landlord to explain the problem. Keep copies of your letters or emails.

2. Meet with your landlord to talk about the problem. Give them the facts about the dangers of secondhand smoke.

3. Explain to your landlord that it is legal for building owners to make their buildings smoke free, even if it is a public housing authority or HUD building.

4.Suggest the landlord adopt a smoke-free policy for the entire building.

Step three: Seek More Help

1. Contact the ASAC smoke-free homes program. They can provide you with facts about secondhand smoke and smoke-free policies, help you write letters, or suggest further steps.

2. Contact other agencies

--Your building's owners

--HUD's Multifamily Housing Complaint line: 1.800.685.8470 or

--Iowa Attorney General's Office Consumer Protection Division: 1.888.777.4590 or

Find a smoke-free apartment near you

The Iowa Department of Public Health is currently compiling a list of smoke-free homes in Iowa. These homes are being put into a searchable database specifically created for tenants. More will be added as more buildings go smoke-free!

ASAC smoke-free homes programs

--Smoke-free signs for buildings and ground

--Connection to the online Iowa Smoke-free Housing Registry

--Technical assistance

--Education for tenants and landlords

For further information on Smoke Free Homes please contact:

Amy Doerrfeld

Prevention Specialist

Area Substance Abuse Council

319.390.1884 x 206

The Area Substance Abuse Council is a partner on this smoke-free housing program.

Additional Resources