New Survey Shows Tulare Tenants Want Protection from Secondhand Smoke

A new survey of Tulare County tenants shows support for more protections from secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing. This survey found that a majority of tenants favor rules prohibiting smoking in outdoor common areas of complexes (70%) and inside apartment units (66%).

Despite these findings, only 43% of Tulare County tenants report currently living in a building with any rules limiting smoking. Breathing secondhand smoke in multi-unit buildings is a health problem because smoke drifts from neighboring units, patios, balconies and outdoor common areas through open windows, doors and shared ventilation systems. Survey results indicate almost 28% of tenants in Tulare County have experienced secondhand smoke drifting into their unit.

“Drifting secondhand smoke is a real health hazard and this survey shows that residents across our county are highly aware of this fact,” said Dr. Karen Haught, county health officer. “So looking at these results, it is not surprising that so many tenants want to be protected from secondhand smoke exposure in their homes.”

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. In 2006, the California Air Resources Board classified secondhand smoke as a “Toxic Air Contaminant” in the same category as asbestos, cyanide and arsenic, all of which can lead to serious illness and death. Restricting smoking in multi-unit housing will protect residents from exposure to a toxic air contaminant, result in financial benefits to landlords and owners through reduced maintenance and turnover costs, and improve the community’s health.

“People should feel safe in their own homes, yet it is alarming that many residents of Tulare County are experiencing drifting secondhand smoke where they live,” said Kimberly Amazeen, vice president, programs & advocacy for the American Lung Association in California. “To ensure the health of these tenants, more must be done to give them the protections they need from secondhand smoke.”

The Tulare County Public Health Department is working with residents who want to live in smoke-free environments, as well as owners and managers, joining more than 55 municipalities throughout California already addressing the health needs of multi-unit housing tenants.

Tulare County tenants were surveyed as part of polling by the American Lung Association in California for CA4Health, a project of the Public Health Institute funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The poll itself, conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, included tenants in 12 CA4Health counties: Calaveras, Humboldt, Imperial, Madera, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Tulare and Tuolumne.

Survey results are available at http://center4tobaccopolicy.org/smokefree-housing-ca4health-poll.

The Public Health Institute is dedicated to promoting health, wellbeing and quality of life for people and works in close partnership with local communities to support their efforts. The American Lung Association in California is a leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.

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