Communicating with your staff early and often during your transition to smoke-free housing is a key to your success. Their buy-in is essential for successful implementation, as they will be on the front lines of implementation and enforcement.
Talk about the plan at each staff meeting, beginning as many months in advance of implementation as possible. Take the time to educate staff members on the benefits of going smoke-free, then discuss the details of the policy, including enforcement. In addition, discuss plans to assist tenants to adjust to the policy and resources available to those who choose to quit smoking. It is important to communicate that staff members are also expected to follow the smoke-free policy. Give your staff the tools they need to help communicate the policy to tenants including educational materials, cessation opportunities and manager contact information.
Staff must understand how to address tenant concerns, recognize and report violations. Staff may also choose to become involved in providing cessation opportunities to tenants. Most importantly, staff must understand how the policy affects their job responsibilities. Provide clear guidelines and expectations for how their roles and responsibilities will change.
Addressing tenant concerns
Provide staff members with an FAQ Guide including answer to the following questions:
What is the policy?
Who does it apply to?
Why is this policy in effect?
What if I choose to smoke in my apartment?
How can I get help quitting?
Where can I find more information?
Identifying a smoking violation
Your staff must be properly trained on how to identify a policy violation.
Observable evidence of violations is important to obtain when possible.
Visual scans should be conducted during routine unit inspections to look for evidence such as full ashtrays, smoke or tobacco odors.
Staff must be informed of the appropriate process for reporting suspected violations. Usually the role of staff members is to document the violation, report it to the manager and let the manager address it.
Written documentation is helpful, as are tenant complaints. Provide staff with guidance about what should be documented including the date/time of the alleged violations, what they observed, location of alleged violations, etc.
If photographic evidence is encouraged, this process must be clarified.
Additional training on providing witness testimony could be helpful, as staff may be asked to testify in eviction court.