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Intervention to Promote Smoke-Free Policies Among Multiunit Housing Operators

King, Brian A. PhD, MPH; Mahoney, Martin C. MD, PhD; Cummings, K. Michael PhD, MPH; Hyland, Andrew J. PhD

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: May/June 2011 - Volume 17 - Issue 3 - p E1–E8
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3181ffd8e3
Original Article

Objective: To assess the efficacy of an intervention to encourage the adoption of smoke-free policies among owners and managers of multiunit housing.

Design: A pretest-posttest quasi-experimental design was employed.

Participants: The study population included 287 multiunit housing operators (MUHOs) from across New York State who were recruited to complete a baseline survey designed to assess policies about smoking in the housing units that they owned and/or managed. Subjects were surveyed between March and July 2008 (n = 128 intervention, n = 159 control) and recontacted 1 year later to complete a follow-up survey (n = 59 intervention, n = 95 control).

Intervention: An informational packet on the benefits of implementing a smoke-free policy was mailed to MUHOs in the New York State counties of Erie and Niagara between March and July 2008. For comparison purposes, a sample of MUHOs located outside of Erie and Niagara counties who did not receive the information packet were identified to serve as control subjects. Main Outcome Measures: Logistic regression was used to assess predictors of policy interest, concern, and implementation at follow-up. Predictors included: intervention group, baseline status, respondent smoking status, survey type, government-subsidy status, quantity of units operated, and average building size, construction type, and age.

Results: Multiunit housing operators who received the information packet were more likely to report interest in adopting a smoke-free policy (OR = 6.49, 95% CI = 1.44-29.2), and less likely to report concerns about adopting such a policy (OR = 0.16, 95% CI = 0.04-0.66) compared to MUHOs who did not receive the information packet; however, the rate of adoption of smoke-free policies was comparable between the groups.

Conclusion: Sending MUHOs an information packet on the benefits of adopting a smoke-free policy was effective in addressing concerns and generating interest toward smoke-free policies but was not sufficient in itself to generate actual policy adoption.

There are a few studies that reveal that secondhand smoke transfer in multiunit housing is common, that the prevalence of smoke-free policies is low, and that there are is a lack of awareness of the benefits of such policies among multiunit housing operators. This study was undertaken to test the efficacy of a simple, low-cost intervention aimed at encouraging multiunit housing operators to adopt smoke-free policies.

Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York.

Correspondence: Andrew J. Hyland, PhD, Department of Health Behavior, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton St, Buffalo, NY 14263 (

This study was partially supported by a grant to the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition from the New York State Department of Health, Division of Chronic Disease, and Injury Prevention. Additional support was also provided by Grant/Cooperative Agreement Number 1R36 DP001848 from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

The authors thank Anthony Billoni and Annamaria Masucci from the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition for their logistical support.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.