During the winter season, people spend more time indoors, especially to gather with family and friends around the holidays. For residents living in multiunit housing or townhouses, these gatherings may be disrupted by secondhand smoke.
Causing nearly 50,000 deaths per year, secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard. It can cause or worsen a wide range of adverse health effects, including lung cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma. Children and infants are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, nearly 50 percent of multiunit housing residents report that they have experienced secondhand smoke coming into their unit.
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems do not control secondhand smoke exposure in multiunit residential buildings. In fact, these systems may distribute secondhand smoke throughout the building. Research has found there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke; even short-term exposure has harmful consequences. Therefore, the only means of effectively eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity altogether.
Increasingly, workplaces, restaurants, and other public places have adopted smoke-free policies. People spend a lot of time at home, so it is an equally important place to protect! To learn about strategies to reduce secondhand smoke exposure in your residential building, check out the Healthy Homes Manual: Smoke-Free Policies in Multiunit Housing.
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