Smoke-free Multi-Unit Housing – Why It's Important
Secondhand smoke is a significant cause of disease and premature death. A recognized cause of lung cancer, secondhand smoke is also associated with heart disease and respiratory problems in nonsmoking adults. Children are especially vulnerable to the health effects of secondhand smoke given their developing bodies and lungs. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, asthma, and ear infections.
Multi-unit housing residents at risk
The home is a major source of secondhand smoke exposure for both adults and children. Because people spend a considerable amount of time at home, smoke-free policies in residential settings can significantly reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. For residents of multi-unit housing (e.g., apartment buildings and condominiums), secondhand smoke can be a major concern given that it can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems.
Secondhand smoke in multi-unit dwellings cannot be contained. Cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Air movement from one unit to another in multi-unit dwellings is significant. In some case, up to 65% of air is shared between units. Eliminating indoor smoking is the only way to protect nonsmokers from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke.