Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Importance of Smoke-Free Buildings

Lobby for a smoke-free building. Even if no one in their unit smokes, people who live in apartments are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Kids who live in an apartment complex are exposed to secondhand smoke, even if no one in their family smokes. That’s according to a study in the journal Pediatrics, which found that children take in their neighbors’ cigarettes through wall seepage and shared ventilation systems.

According to a study of nearly 6,000 children between the ages of 6 and 18, apartment living was associated with a 45 percent increase in cotinine levels for African-American children and a 207 percent increase for Caucasian children. Cotinine is a chemical released in the breakdown of nicotine.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke for children or adults. Exposure to secondhand smoke in children is associated with mental health issues, as well as a greater risk for illnesses including respiratory infections, asthma and sudden infant death syndrome.

If you’re a smoker who lives in an apartment complex, consider smoking outdoors or, even better, quit. If you don’t smoke, ask your landlord to institute a smoke-free policy. As an incentive, let him or her know that it can lower their fire risk and insurance costs and boost market demand, since 80 percent of the population does not smoke.

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