Best Practices for Implementing a Non-Smoking Policy
Be sure to fully understand your governing documents – a condo’s by laws or a co-op’s proprietary lease/occupancy agreement – which dictate what requirements must be fulfilled to amend them, and subsequently, the house rules and regulations. These documents will set forth specific procedures to be followed such as the exact percentage (if any) of votes required to implement changes.
Be transparent at every step during implementation efforts. Owners and shareholders must be thoroughly informed on a) the board’s endeavors and rationale; b) their own role in the process; c) the resolution to be achieved; and d) how the amendment will be applied and enforced.
Promote the Benefits
Articulately communicate the immediate and long-term benefits of a smoking ban, which include:
• Reduced health hazards from secondhand smoke
• Decreased risk of fire hazards
• Reduction in litter from cigarette butts on neighboring balconies and exterior grounds
• Reduction in boards mediating unit owner conflicts over offensive odors
• Improvement in overall building aesthetics
Consult with your building’s attorney for guidance and to draft the appropriate amendments.
Request Support from your Managing Agent
Work closely with your property manager to draft building-wide memos and progress reports, as well as to schedule special meetings to respond to all residents’ needs in an open forum.
Communicate Early and Often
Distribute detailed and frequent communications to residents. In addition to written communications, hold informational meetings to address residents who may have questions or concerns. Be sure to communicate the required percentage of votes needed to implement your resolution.
If approved, communicate how the board and management will enforce the new policy. Consider creating a protocol consisting of warning letters which escalate towards restricted use of amenities in situations of non-compliance. Ultimately, will monetary fines be applied for infractions? Consider implementing a “grandfather” rule for owners who purchased their units prior to the consideration of the ban.
Give and Take
When attempting to implement a change of this magnitude, remember that compromise and accommodations may be necessary.