Survey shows Imperial County apartment dwellers prefer smoke-free units

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IMPERIAL COUNTY – Results from a newly released survey demonstrate that Imperial County tenants support protection from secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing complexes.


The survey findings come as part of a poll conducted 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 (CDC).

The poll conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, included tenants in 12 counties: Calaveras, Humboldt, Imperial, Madera, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Tulare, and Tuolumne.

The purpose of the survey was to explore tenants’ attitudes about second-hand smoke among renters and to assess support for possible rules restricting smoking in outdoor common areas and inside apartment units.

The interviews were conducted April 10-22, 2014: a total of 151 interviews were completed in Imperial County. Survey findings will be used to raise awareness about smoke-free housing and strengthen and engage the community to support healthier living environments.

Survey results for Imperial County indicate the following:

     · 77% of the tenants favor rules prohibiting smoking in outdoor common areas of complexes and 69% inside the apartment units

     · 94% of tenants believe second-hand smoke to be harmful to people who inhale it

     · 92% responded to be concerned about the health effects

The findings also indicate that only 35% of Imperial County tenants report currently living in a building with any rules limiting smoking.

“It is important that individuals take steps to limit exposure to secondhand smoke to prevent chronic illness,” said Dr. Stephen Munday, Imperial County Health Officer.

The CDC estimates that secondhand smoke is responsible for as many as 73,000 deaths among non-smokers each year in the United States. Exposure also increases the risk of coronary heart disease and causes respiratory tract infections, such as pneumonia and bronchitis, in as many as 300,000 children in the United States each year.

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 protects residents from exposure to a toxic air contaminant, results in financial benefits to landlords and owners through reduced maintenance and turnover costs, and improves the community’s health. In Imperial County, six housing management agencies and property owners have already adopted smoke-free policies.

The survey results are available at http://center4tobaccopolicy.org/smokefree-housing-ca4health-poll/.

For information on the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Imperial County or to request technical assistance for adopting and implementing a smoke-free policy in your apartment complex, contact the Tobacco Education Project at 760-482-4907 or via email at raulmmartinez@co.imperial.ca.us.