Smoke-Free Policies and Resident Turnover: An Evaluation in Massachusetts Public Housing From 2009‒2018

Published:January 10, 2023DOI:


      Smoke-free policies (SFP) in multi-unit housing are a promising tool for reducing exposure to tobacco smoke among residents. Concerns about increased housing instability due to voluntary or involuntary transitions induced by SFPs have been a primary barrier to greater widespread adoption. The impact of SFP implementation on transitions out of public housing in federally funded public housing authorities in Massachusetts was evaluated.


      Tenancy data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development were used to determine the time from admission to transitioning out of public housing based on a cohort study design. Periods of exposure to SFPs were defined based on dates of SFP implementation at each PHA. Multi-level Cox regression models were fit to estimate the effects of SFPs on the hazard of transitioning, adjusting for household- and PHA-level characteristics. Analyses were conducted in 2021‒2022.


      There were 44,705 households with a record of residence in Massachusetts PHAs over 2009‒2018. Over this period, despite increasing adoption of SFPs among the PHAs, rates of transition remained steady at around 5‒8 transitions per 1,000 household-months. There was no overall association between exposure to SFPs and transitions among the full sample (adjusted HR=0.99, 95% CI=0.95, 1.04, p=0.794). However, the association varied significantly by age group, race/ethnicity, timing of SFP adoption, and era of admission.


      Adoption of SFPs in public housing had a minimal overall impact on turnover for households in Massachusetts, though disparities in the impact were observed between different demographic and PHA-level subgroups.
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