What Residents and Landlords Think About Smoke-Free Policies Survey and focus-group results from Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc. Portland, Oregon
Campbell Delong Resources is… an independent market-research firm based in Portland, Oregon. The company has a long track record with public-policy research, and more than 40 years of combined experience conducting market research for Fortune 500 corporations, small start-ups, and many other types of businesses.
Research on Smoking Policies Research was conducted to study smoking rules and practices among residents and landlords in the Portland and Clark County (Washington) area, as well as in Oregon. Oregon’s demographics and smoking prevalence rates are very similar to Colorado’s.
Resident surveys were conducted in the Portland/Clark County area in 2006 and 2009, and statewide in 2008.A 50/50 male/female quota was maintained.
Resident Survey Results The percentages between the 2006 and 2009 surveys have increased, but not significantly. An average of 350 residents were surveyed. Local surveys in Colorado have produced similar results.
Most prefer smoke-free housing and will go out of their way to find it • 75% of all renters agree that “other things being equal,” they would rather live in a non-smoking building. • Half would pay more rent to live in a smoke-free building.
Many will avoidsmoking-permittedbuildings • 46% of renters say they would be uncomfortable renting an apartment where neighbors smoke. “Allowing smoking puts a landlord at a distinct market disadvantage with 46% of the market. Only 1 in 10 — those who smoke in their homes — would find it attractive.”
Very few people are smoking inside their homes anymore • 84% do not allow smoking inside their own dwellings. • Only 12% smoke inside regularly. 85.4% of Colorado households reported having smoke-free home rules (2008 state survey).
There is broad awareness that secondhand smoke is dangerous • 78% (including 2/3rds of current smokers) agree that daily exposure to even small amounts of secondhand smoke is a serious health risk. • 73% say landlords should be able to prohibit residents from smoking in their own homes to prevent smoke drifting from neighboring units.
Other interesting findings • 22% say their landlord prohibits smoking inside their living space. This percentage has increased significantly since 2006. • 25% of multiunit residents say they are exposed to a neighbor’s smoke. • Support for smoke-free rules is statewide but slightly higher in the Portland area.
Low-income renters want smoke-free rentals • Even among low income residents, an overwhelming majority thinks secondhand smoke is a serious health risk, do not smoke in their homes, and prefer smoke-free rentals. Only two out of the ten people surveyed acknowledged having an income above $50,000.
The demand will grow • While every age group shows a significant demand for smoke-free housing, younger renters have higher expectations for it. • 55% of the renter population is under the age of 35. “This is a generation that has grown up in an era when smoking restrictions are commonplace compared to people who are old enough to recall smoking sections on airplanes, in restaurants, and in the workplace.”
The smoke-free advantage “While we have certainly seen some exciting market opportunities for businesses over the years, we rarely see such obvious ones. Frankly, if a private property-management firm had conducted this research, it might be tempted to keep the findings confidential to gain an initial competitive advantage.” Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc. Portland, Oregon
Strong support in Colorado too Local surveys show residents support no-smoking policies in multiunit buildings • 66.3% of 467 Boulder County Housing Authority apartment residents surveyed in Boulder County(January 2008) • 65% of 119 residents surveyed at the Eaton Terrace Senior Residencesin Lakewood(April 2008) • 64% of 39 diverse homeless individuals and families surveyed at Longmont’s Inn Between(September 2008) • 70.5% of 45 residents surveyed at the Mount Shavano Manor in Salida(September 2008) • 61.9% of 52.5% Alamosa Housing Authority residents surveyed (September 2009)
The opinions of landlords about smoking policies and practices Based on focus-group results by Campbell DeLong Resources, Inc., from October to November 2006.
The objectives of the research • Determine smoking policy practices in the Portland metro area. • Understand the motivations, perceived benefits, and roadblocks for instituting no-smoking policies. • Evaluate the effectiveness of potential messages and communication formats. • Explore reactions to the resident-survey findings.
Research design and criteria • Six focus groups with landlords were conducted. Half had no-smoking policies and the other half allowed smoking on their properties. • Participants had to: - Own or manage a sufficient number of units. - Represent a range of companies and the number of units they own or manage. - Have a wide range of types of rental housing from high-rent to affordable, as well as subsidized or Section 8 properties.
Landlords and experts in the housing industry were interviewed This presentation focuses on the views of the landlords, but all views are encompassed in the researchers’ conclusions and were almost identical.
There is a stark difference in perspectives between landlords who allow smoking and those who do not. They all see the same issues and drawbacks but deal with it differently. Perspectives of landlords who prohibit smoking
The main reason landlords implement a no-smoking policy • One final, outrageously expensive, clean-up situation. • Investment in remodeling or new construction that landlords wish to keep clean and fresh. • Landlords who are personally impacted by smoking (personal experience or death of a relative or friend).
“We had one unit where we had to replace the carpets in four months due to smoking. There were burns and overflowing ashtrays all over. At that point we decided it was best for us to make them all non-smoking.” “We evicted some chain smokers and it cost us $13,000 to redo everything, from the ceilings to the electrical outlets. I think even the light bulbs smelled.”
Some of the benefits cited by landlords • Residents want non-smoking units. Smoking units can turn away prospective residents. • Smoke-free buildings attract and retain residents who take better care of their units. • The units stay cleaner, are easier to maintain, and have significantly lower turnover costs. • Some are getting a break on their insurance.
“We have a wait list and had an entire building lease up in just 30 days because people were calling specifically for non-smoking units.” “It’s like buying a used car — if it smells like smoke, you’re not going to buy it.” “It seems like most of my residents are smokers, but they still want non-smoking units.”
The public health benefit is a lesser consideration for most “Landlords with non-smoking units often see the health benefits as a worthwhile side benefit, but it is a less important motivator than lowering their cost of doing business. Health concerns are often a primary motivator for people impacted by smoking personally.”
Should the entire property be smoke-free? • A 100% smoke-free property is an additional step most landlords are not ready to take; and see it as extreme. • There is a philosophical conviction that people have “a right to smoke somewhere.”
Although most landlords understand that smokers are not a protected class, there is some confusion about whether landlords are within their rights to forbid all smoking on their property.
Landlords who implement no-smoking policies never go back “Not one of the landlords who prohibits smoking regrets doing so and none are considering going back to allowing smoking in any unit where it has been prohibited. Many said that once they tried it in one property, they quickly wanted it in all.”
While those who have converted their units to non-smoking would never go back, many of those who haven’t seem all but convinced that attempting it would be business suicide. Perspectives of landlords that permit smoking
They would prefer to make their properties smoke-free, but perceive these policies as new, risky, and untested “I’d like to see if it would work, but I don’t want to be the pioneer.”
They have deeply held assumptions and concerns that they would lose residents Many landlords assume that most smokers still smoke inside and that nonsmokers would not find a no-smoking policy as an attractive amenity.
They perceive that only high-end rentals can be non-smoking However, research indicates that smoke-free policies are supported by low-income and minority populations.
They feel uncomfortable telling people what to do in their homes and that they have no “right” to smoke “My residents say they’ve paid their rent, they have a right to do whatever they want.”
They do not want to haveto police one more rule “If someone’s going to smoke, you can’t stop them.” “I think telling people to only smoke outside might be an issue — they would smoke outside, and then we’d get complaints about smoke going into other apartments.”
1. The time, expense, and experience to clean up, repair, and refurbish units “The smoke permeates the walls and the drapes and it’s very difficult to get the odor out without fumigating.”
2. Fire hazards create a safety and liability concern “They fall asleep with a cigarette in hand, their couch catches on fire, and they put their cigarettes out on the carpet.”
3. Allowing smoking outside is less of a concern, and most residents smoke outside anyway “I have a lot of residents who can smoke inside but they choose to step outside and smoke. If cigarette butts are on the sidewalk, I just sweep it up.”
4.Health is notamajor motivator except for those personally impacted Landlords do not want to regulate resident behavior for reasons that go beyond their basic business goals.
5. Landlords perceive that nonsmokers often take better care of themselves and their homes “Nonsmokers generally have a better background and they know how to handle money better. For one thing, they’re not wasting money on cigarettes.”
6. Almost all landlords have sympathy for their smoking residents and are reluctant to force a long-time resident who has always smoked inside to take it outside.
7. They are unclear about the extent that they can limit smoking • Many who allow smoking think they must allow it. • Many who prohibit smoking in their units think they must allow it outside.
8. Their experience validates the resident research results, but their assumptions don’t When you tell landlords that permit smoking that 85% of renters live in smoke-free homes, they will be skeptical. Ask them to estimate how many of their residents smoke inside their units and you will get the same percentage found in the research — within about five percentage points.
Landlords and much of the general public do not recognize the difference between the incidence of smoking in the population and the incidence of smoking inside homes. This is an important finding for crafting communication messages.
9. Landlords all recognize that society is moving toward more and more restrictions on smoking.
Key concerns about smoking — summary • The expense of cleaning and repairing units. • Fire hazards. • Health and secondhand smoke. • Resident treatment of the property. • Have sympathy for smokers. • Uncertain about their legal rights. • Skeptical about resident smoking rates. • They recognize norms are changing.
Other findings and the best messages to use with landlords The following recommendations are based on the research and past experience of Campbell Delong Research.
Getting the word out • Marketing through apartment associations is important, but the researchers have found that many landlords have not heard of them. • Go directly to any likely owner or manager of a rental property. • Obtain new owner contacts through tax assessors or other city, county, or state departments.
Building credibility • Landlords are more likely to trust peers and trade associations. • Government agencies are generally not considered a credible source of information. Respected non-profit health groups may be slightly more credible but still suspect. Landlords question why such groups might have an interest in the rental industry. • Build on partnerships with property-management associations and corporations. Get endorsements on communications pieces whenever possible.
Landlords who allow smoking need to hear a different message from the landlords who have already converted their properties
Landlords that allow smoking • Are more skeptical of statistics that suggest there is a very large demand for nonsmoking rentals because they haven’t experienced it. • Are insulted by messages that seem to make light of the idea that they may be mistaken since they don’t believe it will work financially.