Could Your Neighbor’s Smoke be Making You or Your Family Sick?


Ever wake up all stuffed up? That congestion may be due to smoke seeping in from a neighboring unit. New research proves that cigarette smoking in apartments and condos exposes other tenants to second-hand smoke through air vents, outlets, cracked sheetrock, and around doors and windows, unfairly placing non-smokers and children in harm’s way.


 Most Bay Area residents, even those who smoke, do not allow smoking in their homes; however, the U.S. Surgeon General’s report of 2010 states that, even at very low levels of exposure, tobacco smoke leads to a markedly increased risk of disease such as heart attack, stroke and cancer in adults, as well as lowered IQ, ear and lung infections, and asthma attacks in children.


Additionally, if a previous resident smoked, the residual dust left on surfaces may still be present after new residents have moved in.  This cancer-causing fine powder dust can be picked up when objects are touched and easily finds its way into the mouths, lungs, eyes and noses of babies and toddlers as well as pets.


So what rights do renters have to protect themselves and their families? In Oakland, all indoor and outdoor common areas of apartments and condominiums should be smoke-free, and before you rent, Oakland landlords must disclose the following information: Whether the unit they are offering is designated as smoking or non-smoking; which units in the building are designated smoking and which are non-smoking; how the management deals with smoke complaints. All apartment and condominium dwellers in Oakland should be enjoying smoke-free air.


The Bay Area Smokefree Housing project of the American Lung Association in California has been helping renters and condo owners address this public health issue.  Please call (510)982-3192 for free NO SMOKING signs for landlords, sample letters and lease addendums, and additional information and resources.


Confidential and free quit smoking counseling is available through the California Smoker’s Helpline at 1-800-NO-BUTTS and the American Lung Association Lung Helpline has lung health specialists who can answer questions pertaining to lung health and diseases at 1-800-LUNG-USA.