A survey conducted between 2010 and 2011 of more than 490 residents living in multi-unit homes in Culver City found that 70.6% of respondents would prefer to live in a building that prohibits smoking in indoor and outdoor common areas and balconies and patios.
The same survey also found that nearly 80% of respondents indicated they would be in favor of a law prohibiting smoking in some units of residential buildings. In addition, the survey found that over half (54.1%) of the respondents had unwanted smoke drift into their homes in the last year.
Residents of multi-unit housing are especially at risk to unwanted exposure to secondhand smoke due to their close proximity to neighbors and common areas. Smoke can be transmitted through light fixtures, crawl spaces, doorways, windows and ventilation systems.
Secondhand tobacco smoke will linger sometimes up to a few hours before it has dissipated and it is just as hazardous to one’s health as when the tobacco smoke is visible. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, secondhand smoke is classified as a Group A Carcinogen, the same category that includes asbestos, radon, benzene, and 12 other pollutants known to cause cancer in humans. The US Surgeon General has stated that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
Culver City received a letter grade of “C” in the 2013 American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control annual report, which is a report that evaluates tobacco control efforts of every city and county in California.
This letter grade is based on tobacco policies in three categories: smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing and reducing sales of tobacco products to minors. Culver City received an “A” grade for its reduction of sales of tobacco products to minors and a “C” grade for its work on smoke-free outdoor air. However, Culver City was humbled with a failing grade of “F” on its efforts to pass policy regarding smoke-free housing.
The City Council of Culver City should be commended for taking some strong actions in tobacco control efforts at the local level, but there is still plenty of work to be done with smoke-free housing.
“My fiancé and I are getting married soon and are very excited to start a family, but with all the second hand smoke coming into our condo, I'm afraid we'll have to wait until we move to a healthier environment,” says Angela, a Culver City resident.
Even at very low levels of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, people with existing conditions are at even greater risk for a variety of tobacco related illnesses or exacerbating their current conditions.
Trevor, a Culver City condo owner, says: “I love living in Culver City but during the summer I can't open my windows and enjoy the weather because smoke constantly drifts in from the neighbors and infiltrates my entire house. The smoke has given me a chronic cough that keeps me from getting a single night of rest."
Almost four million people in California smoke, and tobacco-related illness remains the number one form of preventable cause of death in the state, responsible for more than 36,000 deaths each year – that’s more people lost to tobacco than alcohol, HIV/AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined (ALA, 2011).
The Coalition for Smoke-Free Living in Culver City is working to create a public health policy that gives residents a choice to live free from exposure to unwanted secondhand tobacco smoke, especially when it invades their living space from outside or from another unit. We seek a policy that would limit smoking in apartment housing complexes and condominiums.
Please join The Coalition for Smoke-Free Living in Culver City!
E-mail us your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and a full copy of State of Tobacco Control 2013 please visit www.lungusa.org.