Smoke-Free Housing Is Not a Luxury

January 24, 2017 – The Nevada County Public Health Department is kicking off a “Healthy Housing for Healthy Living 2017” Campaign. The purpose is to increase the amount of 100% smoke-free policies for multi-unit housing in Nevada County. Smoke-free policies not only protect the health of tenants but also lower the risk of fire and lower maintenance cost by reducing smoke related property damage. Drifting secondhand smoke in a home can cause significant illness, including asthma, ear infections, heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. “This is a reality for many residents currently living in apartments in our community,” says Shannon Glaz, Health Education Coordinator for Nevada County Public Health. “Over the past five months I have received calls from six local residents stating that they are living with daily exposure to second-hand smoke. One woman said that she tries to hold her breath coming and going from the front door of her home.” Exposure of secondhand smoke, a known human carcinogen contains more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals 1 and can lead to disease and premature death in nonsmoking adults and children.

Smoke-free housing is not a luxury – as a tenant you have a right to breathe air free of secondhand smoke pollutants. 2 Research has shown that smoke from a single cigarette can drift 25 feet or more in every direction. In the case of multi-unit housing, the smoke not only drifts out of a unit into common areas but also into neighboring units through shared ventilation, under doorways, electrical outlets , walls, and ceiling. A study from the Center for Energy and Environment confirmed that up to 60% of the air in a unit can come from adjoining units. The results from an apartment tenant survey in the Brunswick basin shows that 54.5% of the tenants have experienced smoke drifting into their apartments and 61% of these tenants would support a no smoking policy for apartment units.

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“We have an estimated 5,153 families living in multi-unit housings in Nevada County,” said Shannon Glaz, Health Educator. “If we can help family’s lower health risks for themselves and their children where they spend a large majority of their time, then we are doing our job as stewards of public health.” Statewide at least thirty seven municipalities have implemented multi-unit smoke-free policies. 3 In Nevada County, we take a different approach by working directly with apartment complexes to provide them with technical assistance and the tools they would need to create smoke-free living environments.

Since our last Healthy Housing, Healthy Living Campaign, six apartments went smoke-free: Cedar Park Apartments, Orchard Hill Apartments, Nevada Commons, Glenbrook, Oak Ridge and Gold Country Village. Apartment tenant knows first-hand the impacts of second hand smoke. One tenant stated “since the apartment’s complex has gone smoke free, it has been a big improvement in living here.” Another person is happy with the change because they said “it used to smell like smoke the minute you walked into the front lobby.” If you would like to initiate a healthy housing campaign at your complex or have any additional questions regarding adopting a smoke-free policy, please contact Shannon Glaz, Health Educator at (530) 265-1451.

1 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Lead Hazard Control & Health Homes; An Action Guide for Establishing Smoke-Free Public Housing and Multifamily Properties, October 2014

2 CA Department of Public Health, CA Tobacco Control Update, 2009

3 American Lung Association, the Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing. http://center4tobaccopolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/FINAL-Matrix-of-Strong-Local-MUH-Ord-Sept-2015.pdf

1 COMMENT

  1. Its not, unfortunately, limited to multi-unit housing, where we live in UK next door both smoke, we are terraced houses. She smoked 3 feet from our door, then stopped smoking so close after we involved Environmental Health, and has again resumed standing 3 feet from our door again. Their garden is 30′ x 15′, so no need to stand that close! Oh, she knows I have chronic bronchitis, so she smokes just to aggravate my constant cough every time I open the door or gate!! So, yes, smoke does travel to other houses, flats etc., not only is it unpleasant, irritating, but downright antisocial and dangerous.

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