Progress Continues into 2012 from Statewide Success in 2011 for Increasing Smokefree Housing, Improving Residents’ Health

Protecting Californians from Secondhand Smoke

Over the course of 2011, great strides were made throughout the Golden State in protecting Californians where they are most vulnerable to secondhand smoke exposure (SHS) exposure – their homes. Numerous state, county, and city officials have recognized the need to address SHS in multi-unit housing.

At the state level, the California legislature passed SB 332 this past September, which clearly states a landlord’s authority to ban smoking on their residential properties. Although landlords have always had the authority to implement policies, including smoke-free policies, pertaining to the well-being of their tenants and their buildings, some landlords had been hesitant to do so because they were not able to find language explicitly declaring that authority. Effective January 1, 2012, the SB 332 authorizes “a landlord of a residential dwelling unit to prohibit the smoking of tobacco products on the property, in a dwelling unit, in another interior or exterior area, or on the premises on which the dwelling unit is located.”

 

Members of Healthy Lungs @ Home: Cerritos-Artesia meet with Senator Alan Lowenthal, whose district includes Cerritos and Artesia, and District Representative Irantzu Pujadas

At the county level, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics jointly hosted a mid-November press conference at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to inform the public about the hazards posed by secondhand smoke in apartments and condominiums. During the conference, Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, announced that “Even if you are a non-smoker, you and your family might still be exposed to toxic levels of tobacco smoke at all hours of the day inside your own home.”

At the city level, municipalities all over Los Angeles County including Pasadena, Baldwin Park, and Compton took the initiative in assuring the health of residents by supplementing or adding to their municipal codes to require smoke-free spaces within apartments and condominiums.

Raising Awareness in Cerritos and Artesia

Healthy Lungs @ Home: Cerritos-Artesia (HLH: Cerritos-Artesia) applauds the leadership demonstrated at all levels of government and congratulates those cities in Los Angeles County for prioritizing the health of their citizens through the local smoke-free multi-unit housing ordinances that have been enacted.

Over the past year, HLH: Cerritos-Artesia, a coalition of concerned residents and community members, has endeavored to raise awareness in Cerritos about the dangers of secondhand smoke in the home and the health benefits of smoke-free housing. According to a public opinion survey of 500 Cerritos residents conducted by HLH: Cerritos-Artesia, 95.2% of respondents believe that secondhand smoke is harmful to people’s health; 80.2% indicated that they would be in favor of a law prohibiting smoking in some units of residential buildings; and 87.7% would prefer to live in a non-smoking section of a building as is done in hotels.

This past summer, awareness efforts were expanded to the city of Artesia and the same public opinion survey is currently being conducted among Artesia residents. Although survey results are not yet available, Wendy Natividad, a Health Policy Liaison with HLH: Cerritos-Artesia, has met a number of residents who have expressed concern about secondhand smoke in the community. One apartment resident is a senior citizen whose asthma has been agitated by his neighbors’ frequent smoking. A local church parishioner, whose daughter presently studies public health, is a non-smoker who shared that she is “glad that there is an organization like [HLH:Cerritos-Artesia] to help people who are having problems with secondhand smoke.” Another apartment resident is concerned about how his neighbors’ heavy smoking is impacting their own children.

How Cerritos and Artesia Residents Can Get Involved

Despite the progress in 2011, there is still much work left to do in protecting apartment and condominium residents from secondhand smoke. For example, SB 332 does not specifically require all landlords to ban smoking; it only says they are allowed to do it. That is why HLH: Cerritos-Artesia continues to foster discussion about how secondhand smoke in the home can be addressed.

As a Cerritos or Artesia resident, you have a variety of ways to address secondhand smoke in the community:

  • Are you or someone you know an apartment or condominium resident affected by secondhand smoke? Come share your story or invite others to share at the next HLH: Cerritos-Artesia meeting, meet others who are also experiencing issues with secondhand smoke, and learn what steps you can take to address it.
  • Schedule an educational presentation for your church, school, or civic organization to learn more about how secondhand smoke particularly impacts residents of multi-unit housing.
  • Artesia residents can contact HLH: Cerritos-Artesia if they wish to respond to the previously mentioned survey with their thoughts on smoking and tobacco use.
  • Volunteer with HLH: Cerritos-Artesia to assist with outreach and increasing awareness at meetings and local events.

To learn more or to get involved, call 562-281-LUNG (5864) and ask for Wendy Natividad or email HLHcerritos@gmail.com.

You can also connect with HLH: Cerritos-Artesia online. Visit:

http://center4tobaccopolicy.org/HLHcerritos

http://facebook.com/HLHcerritos

http://twitter.com/HLHcerritos

http://HLHcerritos.tumblr.com/