Journal of Community Health

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 1207–1215 | Cite as

A Smoke-Free Community Housing Policy: Changes in Reported Smoking Behaviour—Findings from Waterloo Region, Canada

  • Ryan David KennedyEmail author
  • Stephanie Ellens-Clark
  • Laurie Nagge
  • Ornell Douglas
  • Cheryl Madill
  • Pamela Kaufman
Original Paper


In 2010, Waterloo Region Housing (Canada) enacted a smoke-free (SF) housing policy that made all new leases in their community-housing portfolio (2722 units) 100 % SF. Existing lease holders were ‘grandfathered’—meaning tenants could still smoke in their homes. A survey to measure support for the policy and how the policy had impacted smoking behaviour was delivered to all 2722 households in the Waterloo Region Housing portfolio in 2010 (pre-policy), 2011 and 2013 (post-policy). The proportion of households that completed the survey was 26 % (n = 717) in 2010, 25 % (n = 685) in 2011, and 23 % (n = 619) in 2013. Support for the SF housing policy was 72 % pre-enactment (2010), and increased to 78 % in 2011 and 79 % in 2013; however, most smokers do not support the policy. In 2010, prior to the SF policy, 65 % of tenants who smoke reported someone smoked inside their home; in 2013 this was reduced to approximately half of smokers (52 %). In 2013, 44 % of smokers reported smoking outside more often than before the SF policy was enacted, almost half of tenants with a smoke-free lease (46 %) and more than a third of tenants who have a grandfathered lease (34 %) reported they smoke less since the smoke-free policy. There has been no significant change in the proportion of respondents (>50 %) who reported being exposed to second-hand smoke in their home. This SF housing policy is associated with increased reported outdoor smoking and reduced smoking. Smoke-free policies may support smokers interested in quitting.


Tobacco control Community housing Smoking Social housing Second-hand smoke 



The research team would like to acknowledge the residents of Waterloo Region Housing for completing the surveys. In addition the authors acknowledge the support from: Dr. Liana Nolan, Patricia Kingston, Stephen Drew, Julia Pilliar, Jonathan Mall, Mary Sehl, Anu Jhajj, Deborah Schlichter, Rob Horne, and Sharlene Sedgwick Walsh from the Region of Waterloo; Stephanie Filsinger and Matthew Grey of the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact assisted with data management. The Waterloo Region Housing smoke-free policy evaluation committee includes Irwin Peters, Kevin O’Hara, Jennifer Murdoch, Jonathan Mall, Lynda Fitzgerald, Mary Parent, Arlene Metz, Laurie Nagge, Stephanie Ellens-Clark, and Ryan David Kennedy. Past members include Bob Theisz, Carol Markow, Ann Derry, Janine Toms, and Sherry White.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no competing interests to declare.


This research was funded by the Region of Waterloo (Waterloo Region Housing, Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services, and Region of Waterloo Legal Services). The Propel Centre for Population Health Impact is supported by a Major Program Grant from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Initiative (CCSRI Grant #701019).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan David Kennedy
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Stephanie Ellens-Clark
    • 3
  • Laurie Nagge
    • 3
  • Ornell Douglas
    • 2
  • Cheryl Madill
    • 2
  • Pamela Kaufman
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Health, Behaviour and Society, Institute for Global Tobacco ControlJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Propel Centre for Population Health ImpactUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Public Health and Emergency ServicesRegion of WaterlooCambridgeCanada
  4. 4.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Ontario Tobacco Research UnitUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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