A New Tool for Landlords “Non-Smoking” Policies

One of the most difficult parts of implementing a non-smoking policy at an apartment community is enforcing compliance. Detection of smokers can be difficult and precisely locating the source of smoke even more so. Now, thanks to a New Hampshire based company, landlords have the ability to detect not only that smoking is occurring but identifying the exact source of the smoke.

There are many reasons to create smoke-free environments for our residents. Not only are there the health issues, but the cost savings for landlords can be significant.

There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that over 41,000 Americans die annually from the effects of secondhand smoke. In children, secondhand smoke causes ear infections, more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections, and a greater risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths each year.

We all know the effect smoking has on people who smoke, but the effects linger long after the smoking ends.

  1. 36.8% of nonsmokers who live in rental housing are exposed to secondhand smoke;
  2. A widely publicized 2013 study (San Diego State University School of Public Health & the University of Washington Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences) showed that rooms exposed to smoking maintain high levels of toxins long after the smoking has ended;
  3. The same study found that even extensive cleaning cannot remove dangerous chemical residue; and
  4. People are exposed to hazardous substances long after smoking takes place.

It is no surprise that many studies have shown that guests and residents prefer no-smoking environments.

  • 87% of all hotel guests prefer to stay in non-smoking rooms;
  • In 2002, two Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) were smoke-free; in 2018 all PHAs were required to go smoke-free in public housing (more than 1 million units);
  • An apartment that has been smoked in can cost $3,000 to $8,000 to prepare for rental; and
  • 78% of renters – including smokers – would choose smoke-free housing.

FreshAir Sensors

Unlike typical smoke detectors that use light or radiation to detect general particles (dust, smoke, steam, etc.), these new sensors detect specific molecules in tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke.

These devices plug into standard Type B outlets and are secured with tamper proof screws. They then connect to the building’s Wi-Fi (which is required) to communicate on a continuous basis with the landlord. When smoking is detected in a monitored space, the device sends an immediate alert via email, computer desktop, and/or a mobile phone push notification to users on the account.

Smoking alerts come with timestamped reports of the incident in the monitored space, providing the scientific proof to enforce the no-smoking policies.

The devices have a mobile app and online portal allowing the management team to access alert history, stay updated on device information, and log additional evidence of smoking to be archived in alert history (notes, photos, etc.).

The devices are tamper-proof and along with a cloud-based monitoring platform are designed to prevent typical efforts to defeat detection. When smoking is detected in monitored spaces, users on the account will immediately receive an alert via email on their computer or mobile phone, informing them of the time and location of the unauthorized smoking. The devices are secured with tamper-proof screws and if a device is removed by force, it will immediately be labelled as “offline” on the account.

The sensors that are currently on the market do not detect vapor from e-cigarettes or e-vaporizers.

Landlords that are interested in more information on this product should contact the manufacturer directly. The website is freshairsensor.com.

This product may be an answer to the lingering problem of how to enforce non-smoking policies at apartment communities.

One final disclaimer: I have not seen this product in action, so this article is not an endorsement; it is informational only. If any of my readers have used the product – or do in the future – I would love to hear how it works.