Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing
Over 2 million nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by secondhand smoke, since 1964. Health problems associated with secondhand smoke include heart disease, lung cancer and stroke among adults and asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms, respiratory infections and a greater risk of sudden infant death syndrome among children. Exposure can occur when a person smoking a tobacco product, such as cigarettes (e-cigarettes), cigars or pipes, breathes out or exhales smoke from burning the tobacco products.4 Most secondhand exposure occurs in homes and in the workplace. California has implemented policy that protects people of secondhand smoke in most public areas such as restaurants, bars, casinos and workplace, but leaves housing smoking policies up to residents and building managers.
People living in multi-family housing buildings don’t always have the choice of living in a smoke free environment. People living in multi-family housing, such as apartments, condominiums and duplex’s, can have exposure to tobacco smoke as it can spread from neighboring units into common areas or into other units through ventilation systems, gaps (in doors and windows) and even plumbing.
Currently only 90 cities and some California counties have established policies to prohibit smoking in common area and units (including balconies, porches, decks and patios). California residents report that in their multi-unit housing at least 11.7% allow smoking and 17.5% allow ‘vaping’ inside their homes. Most Central Valley counties and cities fail at instilling policies protecting citizens from secondhand smoke. Only Merced and San Joaquin County implemented smoking prohibitions in 100% of new and existing units owned by the respective Housing Authority of the county prohibiting smoking in all common areas and or adjoining grounds. However, most other locations within these counties and other valley counties do not have policies for regulating secondhand smoking. Establishing smoke-free multi-unit housing would have many benefits that would protect the health of residents. California tenants (62%) are supportive of laws to protect residents in multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke exposure. Central California is in need of widespread policies prohibiting smoking in certain multi-housing units to decrease secondhand exposure.
Public Opinion Research Survey: August 2004
Survey of California Renters, About Smoke-free Multi-Unit Housing Laws (N=600)
- 62% feel that there is a need for laws to limit smoking in apartments
- 67% support a law to prohibit smoking in outdoor common areas of multi-unit housing
- 69% support a law requiring apartment buildings to offer non-smoking section of units
- 82% would prefer to live in an apartment building where smoking is not allowed anywhere or where there are separate smoking and non-smoking sections
- 61% support a law to require landlords to inform new tenants that a person who smokes lives in the unit next door to the one the new tenant is about to rent
- 70% believe that there is a law restricting smoking in apartments, that an individual who repeatedly violates those restrictions should be evicted
For more information about secondhand smoking visit:
- Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure is High in Multiunit Housing
- Secondhand Smoke Can Infiltrate Into Other Units Through Hallways and Stairwells: http://bit.ly/2PnmP2c
- The Harmful Chemicals In Secondhand Smoke: http://bit.ly/2OJZGYt
- The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing, American Lung Association of California. Public opinion research survey: August 2004 survey of California renters about smokefree multi-unit housing laws. The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing, American Lung Association of California. 2004.
- California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. California tobacco facts and figures 2016. California Department of Public Health, California Tobacco Control Program. 2016.
- San Joaquin County Public Health Services. Second and third hand smoke. San Joaquin Public Health Services. 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Secondhand smoke (SHS) facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/secondhand_smoke.... Updated 2017. Accessed October 10, 2018.
- The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing, American Lung Association in California. Local California smokefree housing policies: Detailed analysis. The Center for Tobacco Policy & Organizing, American Lung Association in California. 2017.