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What Can I do about Secondhand Smoke Drifting into My Apartment or Condo?

Is secondhand smoke really that bad?

Of the over 7,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke, over 70 cause cancer[i]. Secondhand smoke contains chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and ammonia[ii].

The particles in secondhand smoke are so small they can go deeply into the lung tissue. They may go in so deeply that they will never come out.[iii] Others, such as carbon monoxide, pass through the lungs and into the blood stream where they can be circulated to other organs.

In addition to lung cancer, secondhand smoke can cause asthma, heart disease and sudden infant death syndrome.

The US Surgeon General has stated that there is no safe level of exposure to second hand smoke, and that the California Environmental Protection Agency has declared it a Toxic Air Contaminant.

Can it really drift between units?

Yes, secondhand smoke can drift from one unit to another. It can enter a unit not just through doors and windows, but also through air conditioning and ventilation, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets and lighting fixtures, as well as gaps in construction.[iv]

Won’t sealing cracks and using air purifiers clean the air?

According to the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the only way to truly get rid of secondhand smoke from an apartment building is to not allow smoking.[v]

Can smoking be restricted?

Yes. California law permits landlords to designate any portion of their property, including the entire property as “nonsmoking.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a memo in 2012, PIH-2012-25, that encourages public housing authorities to adopt no smoking policies. No-smoking rules do not restrict the right of any group to rent an apartment; they simply restrict a harmful behavior on the premises. In fact, because there are many people with qualified disabilities made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke, restricting where smoking occurs, or eliminating it entirely, opens the availability to rent to a larger population.

For help to make your air smoke free or for more information, please call the Tobacco Use Prevention Program at (714) 541-1444 or click on one of the links below.

I Want to Learn More about Smokefree Apartments and Condos

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I am a Landlord

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I am a Tenant

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I am a Home Owners Association (HOA)

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Page Last Updated: July 22, 2019



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