A new survey of Tulare County tenants shows support for more protections from secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency announced Wednesday. The survey, done for the American Lung Association in California in April, found that the majority of tenants surveyed favor rules prohibiting smoking in outdoor common areas of complexes (70 percent) and inside apartment units (66 percent). Despite these findings, only 43 percent 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 percent 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. So looking at these results, it is not surprising that so many tenants want to be protected from secondhand smoke exposure in their homes,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Health Officer.
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, 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, 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. In Tulare Count, 154 people were surveyed.