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Secondhand Smoke and Smokefree Policies in Owner-Occupied Multi-Unit Housing

      Background

      Studies have documented movement of secondhand smoke (SHS) between units in multi-unit buildings, but none has focused on owner-occupied units in common-interest communities (CICs). In Minnesota, approximately 170,000 households (8%) live in such units. CIC households may experience long-term SHS exposure because owner-occupants typically live in the same unit for many years.

      Purpose

      This study estimated the prevalence of SHS incursion in CICs and assessed residents' attitudes toward SHS incursions and interest in smokefree policies.

      Methods

      A stratified sample of Minnesota CIC owner-occupants was surveyed in 2009, with analysis in 2010–2011. Data were weighted to account for differing sampling, response, and coverage rates by stratum, then calibrated to population control totals for housing type, age, and smoking status.

      Results

      The response rate was 35.6%, with 495 completions. Twenty-eight percent of households reported SHS incursion into their unit in the preceding 6 months; 59% of these said this bothers them a lot. Only 6% report that their CIC has a smokefree policy for residents' units. Forty-two percent would prefer such a policy whereas 26% would prefer smoking-permitted. Sixty-three percent definitely and 17% probably would choose a no-smoking building over a smoking-permitted building if they were buying a new unit, and 46% would be willing to pay more for such a unit.

      Conclusions

      Secondhand smoke incursion is common in CICs, and interest in smokefree CICs greatly exceeds the supply. Given the known health risks of SHS exposure, tobacco control efforts in multi-housing should address CICs as well as rental households.
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