Lower Hudson Journal News: Nonsmokers Need More Protection

(February 7, 2010)



Letter to the editor
Published Sunday, February 7, 2010

Nonsmokers need more protection

While New York's smoke-free workplace laws protect workers from second-hand smoke, no laws protect people from second-hand smoke where they live. SHS drifts from apartments, forcing many apartments, co-op, condo and public housing residents to breathe SHS. Smoke drifting from lit tobacco products and/or exhaled by smokers seeps into the living spaces of other tenants and common areas of the building. SHS travels through lighting fixtures, cracks in walls, around plumbing, under doors and through shared heating/ventilation.

Second-hand smoke is more than a nuisance or bad smell — it is a class A carcinogen, like radon and asbestos. It can also exacerbate pre-existing health conditions especially for children and the elderly. Smoke-free housing policies are a means for landlords to prohibit smoking while protecting the health of their residents and preserving the value of their property.

Growth of the movement to adopt smoke-free housing policies is evident, as recently seen in the implementation of a smoking ban in a 298-unit building in New York City. Locally, a third of Westchester County residents who live in multifamily dwellings and have a smoke-free household report that second-hand smoke has entered their living space from somewhere else in or around the building.

In a POW'R Against Tobacco 2009 survey, 43 percent of Westchester County residents who live in multi-unit dwellings would be in favor of a policy that bans smoking in all areas, including balconies and patios. For further information visit www.smokefreeny.org.

Makeda James


American Lung Association in New York editor's note:  The writer is the
Westchester County Coalition Coordinator for POW'R Against Tobacco.