Smoke-Free Policy Disparities in Long-Term Care Facilities

Ellen J. Hahn, Kathy Rademacher, Amanda Bucher, Karlee Sine, Amanda T. Wiggins, Mary Kay Rayens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Older adults in long-term care (LTC) facilities suffer disproportionately from health conditions caused or worsened by secondhand smoke. Long-term care facilities in many states and municipalities permit smoking. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights compiles data on smoke-free policies only in institutional facilities (e.g., nursing homes), but not in transitional (e.g., independent living) or community-based settings (e.g., adult day). A cross-sectional, observational study was conducted of smoke-free policies using cluster random sampling in Kentucky to compare differences in policy location of coverage and strength of smoke-free policies in institutional, transitional, and community-based LTC facilities by rural/urban status. Online or phone surveys of LTC administrators representing 306 facilities were conducted. Of the facilities sampled, 35.5% were institutional, 33.4% transitional, 25.1% community-based, and 6.0% multi-type. Only one in five (19.6%) facilities restricted smoking indoors and outdoors. Only 17.3% of the policies were comprehensive (i.e., prohibiting use of all tobacco products by all persons living, frequenting, or working in LTC facilities). Compared to transitional facilities, institutional and community-based facilities were more likely to have comprehensive policies and restrict smoking indoors and outdoors. Facilities located in rural communities were less likely to restrict smoking indoors or outdoors and less likely to have comprehensive smoke-free policies, reflecting a disparity in policy protections. Strong, consistent smoke-free policies and policy enforcement are needed to reduce the disparity in smoke-free protections for older adults, LTC employees, and visitors. More research is needed to investigate the best strategies for implementing and enforcing policies that completely restrict smoking in all LTC facilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-409
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • long-term care facilities
  • populations
  • smoke-free policy
  • tobacco-free policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Smoke-Free Policy Disparities in Long-Term Care Facilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this