steps to adopt a no-smoking policy

Step 1: Constructing your no-smoking rule
Choose the vehicle for rule change: Familiarize yourself with, and talk to your attorney about,
the different methods of adopting a no-smoking rule for your community association. These include:
• Amendment to Declaration
• Amendment to Bylaws
• Board resolution
Define smoking: “Carrying, burning, or otherwise handling or controlling any lit or smoldering
product containing tobacco, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars or pipes.”
Where will rule the rule apply? Think about where you want to prohibit smoking on the property:
• Indoor common areas (lobby, hallways, community rooms, etc.)
• Outdoor general common areas (trails, playground, parking lot, etc.)
• Outdoor exclusive use common areas (balconies, porches, patios, etc.)
• Outdoors within a certain distance from the buildings (such as 25 feet)
• Inside units
• Everywhere on the property, inside and outside
Given that smoke drifts everywhere, consider the effect that a no-smoking rule in one area may
have on other areas. Where smoking occurs, even outside, can make a difference to residents
who either have to pass through the smoke or who live near a common smoking area. For
example, if you prohibit smoking in individual units, more people begin to smoke on their balconies
and patios. If you prohibit smoking on patios, they may start smoking outside building entrances
and in other outdoor locations.
Potential solutions include extending the rule to include a certain distance from entrances, exits,
operable windows and air intake vents or designating an outdoor smoking area located where
smoke is unlikely to affect other residents.
When will rule go into effect? Allow time to gather owner input and to educate residents.
A rule going into effect in the warmer months may increase compliance because it gives
smokers a chance to get used to smoking outside.
Use the general nuisance clause: The community association’s general rule against
nuisances in the declaration or CC&Rs should be reaffirmed.
For this and other tools go to
Provided by the Oregon Smokefree Housing Project, funded by the Oregon Public Health Authority, and Clark County Public Health.
Thanks to Minnesota’s Live Smoke Free, the Public Health Law Center, and The Massachusetts Smoke-Free Housing Project for generously sharing their materials.
How will the rule be enforced? The no-smoking rule should state how it will be
enforced, what the fine will be for infraction, and that board members have an
obligation to ensure the rule is followed. Reference your enforcement provisions
for violations of other community association rules such as no pets, no loud music,
improper garbage disposal. All rules must be needed, fair, uniformly enforceable,
and penalties must relate to the severity of the violation.
Step 2: Getting resident input
Consider doing a resident survey to assess and demonstrate support for the rule change
(See Sample Resident Letter and Sample Survey Questions at A
survey gives owners an opportunity to voice their opinions, and it acts as a preliminary
“vote”. Results from this will demonstrate support and may uncover areas that need special
attention before moving forward. It will make residents feel included in the process and
may decrease opposition.
Step 3: Educating owners
Since a vote of a super-majority of unit owners will likely be needed to enact the rule
change, it is very important to take time to educate owners about the many benefits of a
no-smoking rule. Share results of the resident survey to demonstrate community support.
This could be done through newsletter articles, notices on your website, flyers in newspaper tubes or door slots, signs in a lobby, etc.
Consider designating a special task force to plan educational outreach and help with
process of determining what the actual rule will include.
Step 4: Voting on the proposed rule
Take advantage of multiple communication channels to promote voting on this issue.
This could include letters to owners, newsletter articles, web notices and even signs
throughout the community. Since it may be difficult to obtain the required number of
votes in a fixed time period (due to owner absence, etc.), you might leave the voting
open until a quorum is reached. Consider knocking on doors and collecting proxies.
Step 5: Implementing the no-smoking rule
For Common Areas: Make sure the building and grounds comply with state law and
that no-smoking signs are posted. Under Oregon and Washington state law, smoking is
prohibited in most public places and workplaces. Public place means any enclosed area
open to the public. Workplace means every enclosed area under the control of a public or
private employer where employees frequent during the course of their regular duties (lobbies, hallways, community or laundry rooms, etc). In addition, smoking is prohibited near
ALL entrances, exits, operable windows and air intake vents (within 10 feet in Oregon and
25 feet in Washington).
Since community association boards generally have the authority to establish rules for
common areas, you will be able to do this right away. Check the declaration or CC&Rs.
All it may take is a vote of the majority of board members at a meeting where a quorum is
present. Once a common area no-smoking rule is enacted, the board must give unit
owners notice of the rule change before implementing. The notice should state where
smoking will be prohibited and when the rule becomes effective.
If, as in many buildings, smoking is not permitted in the enclosed common areas of your
building, your next step is to implement a rule change for those common areas that are
not enclosed such as fire escapes, decks, patios, exterior landings, front steps and the
surrounding grounds. Because secondhand smoke often drifts from these locations back
inside the building through doors and windows, it may become necessary to prohibit
smoking in these areas. If a smoking area is designated, it should be far from any
entrance or other area where the smoke might drift back into the building.
It is advisable to record a bylaw amendment for common area rules because it
automatically provides notice to all unit owners of the rule change.
For the entire property: A no-smoking rule that restricts smoking in individual units
probably requires an amendment of the community association‘s bylaws found in the
declaration or CC&Rs. Enacting the rule will require a vote of unit owners; likely, a
super-majority (75% to 95%) will be needed. Consult your own community association
documents for specifics. Although you may enjoy the support of all owners, it is possible
you will meet with some resistance. That is why it is critical to conduct a resident survey
to gain support for the rule and educate owners about benefits.
Step 6: Enforcing the No-Smoking Rule
No-smoking rules are largely self-enforcing. Once the rule is established, you are likely
to attract new owners who support no-smoking rules. Here are some tips:
Inform owners: Start by mailing each resident a copy of the rule change or bylaw
amendment as soon as the amendment has passed.
Post no-smoking signs: Put them at the entrance, hallways and other conspicuous
areas. If you find someone smoking in an area where it is prohibited, post a no-smoking
sign there too.
Remove ashtrays and clean up cigarette butts: These items give the impression it is a
smoking area.
Repair cigarette damage in common areas: If these areas have cigarette burns and
smell like smoke, building residents may be inclined to ignore the no-smoking rule. Replace
or patch carpet, floors or other surfaces that have cigarette burns, paint smoke-stained
walls and ceilings, and take other steps to reduce the odor of stale tobacco smoke.
Respond promptly to resident complaints of smoking: Ask those who complain to
document when and from where the smoke likely originated. Follow-up with enforcement
in a timely fashion.
Be consistent: Taking the same steps in the same time period for every rule violation
sends a clear message to everyone that smoking is not allowed. Likewise, treat violations
of the no-smoking rule in the same way you respond to other rule violations such as loud
noise or inappropriate garbage disposal.
Alert owners: Make owners aware they could be held financially responsible for violations
on the premises and that the rule applies to everyone, including guests and tenants.

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