The winter cold has settled in, and the Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes issued a warning to people to beware of increased exposure to toxins from secondhand smoke as they spend more time indoors. People living in multifamily residences or apartment buildings who suffer from lung disease such as asthma or COPD may find it especially difficult to breathe if secondhand smoke travels through their building and into their apartments.
While it is common for market-rate and luxury apartments to be smoke-free, there are very few smoke-free options for those with limited incomes, such as Medicaid, Social Security disability or retirement. Some communities may have no smoke-free options for these populations at all. Tenants on limited income experiencing health issues that are aggravated by secondhand smoke exposure often call TACFL asking for help, but most are afraid to use their name in fear of being displaced. One unidentified tenant shared, “I’ve done everything I can think of to take care of the problem myself. I bought a portable heating unit, and taped off all doors, windows and vents. Somehow it still gets in.”
As of March 2018, all HUD-funded public housing will be 100 percent smoke-free, providing safe, clean and healthy environments for all tenants. TACFL has been reaching out to other multi-unit property managers to discuss the many benefits of smoke-free living, not only for tenants, but for staff and property managers as well. Secondhand smoke kills over 2,000 New Yorkers each year, and causes many of the same diseases and cancers found in smokers.
TACFL works with partners in Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties to make the Finger Lakes a healthier place to live, work and play for everyone. Housing with clean, healthy air should not just be a luxury for the wealthy. All residents of multi-unit housing are entitled to safe living conditions.
If you would like additional information, please contact TACFL at 585-666-1398.
The Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes, a program of the American Lung Association, is a grassroots coalition of local agencies and individuals working together to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and to promote healthy communities. TACFL serves Ontario, Seneca, Wayne and Yates counties in New York state. The coalition is funded by the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control.