The Marion L. Phillips Apartments, a property of the Claremont Housing Authority, became a 100% non-smoking property on Oct. 1, 2011.

The Authority’s Board of Commissioners voted in March 2011 to establish this policy, which bans smoking of all types of tobacco products in buildings as well as grounds. The Commissioners voted to become non-smoking for the health of tenants as well as employees, smokers and non-smokers alike. They also considered other factors:

  • A nation-wide initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to have all its public housing projects adopt non-smoking policies. Read the letter from HUD
  • Air quality testing for secondhand smoke in apartments, corridors and public spaces resulting in unacceptably high levels of particulate matter (chemicals and poisons).
  • Costs associated with renovating an apartment where smoking occurred. Special paint, new flooring, replacement appliances and cabinets, and additional labor can cost $10,000 — 10 times as expensive as turning around the apartment of a non-smoker. With HUD providing less capital funding each year, the Authority had to make its budget work more efficiently.
  • Examples set by other NH property management companies and authorities.

Michelle Aiken, Phillips’ site manager, has ensured that each prospective tenant knows about the strict no-smoking policy. “But that hasn’t been a problem,” she said. “In fact, more applicants have said they were happy to find a non-smoking apartment project here in the city.”

To help with the six-month transition and implementation, the Commissioners:

  • Sponsored a series of smoking-cessation classes
  • Covered the cost of nicotine patches and other stop-smoking aids
  • Offered opportunity to apply for other housing program vouchers, allowing for relocation where indoor smoking was allowed
  • Continue to ensure that prospective tenants know about the smoke-free policy
  • Continue to provide aids for tenants who request them
  • Purchased TSI-Sidepak Air Quality Monitor for testing
  • Continue to monitor the air, including new move-ins to establish baseline readings
  • Enforce policy and evict tenants who violated their lease agreement

The policy has re-shaped life at the Phillips in a positive way. “Everyone — tenants, staff, family, visitors and Commissioners — has been happy with our non-smoking policy,” said Andrew Fennelly, the Authority’s executive director.