Apartment Dwellers Exposed to Tobacco

BOSTON, June 19 (UPI) — Non-smokers who live in U.S. public housing are exposed to toxins from tobacco smoke and smoking should be banned in such housing, two U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Jonathan Winickoff of MassGeneral Hospital for Children and Michelle Mello of the Harvard School of Public Health said more than 7 million people live in public housing, with four in 10 units occupied by families with children.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a memorandum last year that encouraged local public housing authorities to implement no-smoking policies in some or all of their housing units but only about 4 percent have banned smoking in the units they manage.

Winickoff’s and Mello’s article, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, details how smoking in a single unit within a multi-unit building puts other residents of the building at risk. The article gives specific guidance on policy options for public housing authorities and HUD and clarifies that there are no legal barriers to banning smoking in public housing.

“Research shows that those living in multiple-unit housing are being exposed to toxins from tobacco smoke,” Winickoff says in a statement. “Even if you are not a smoker and don’t smoke inside of your own apartment, if you have a neighbor who is smoking inside of his, the entire building is contaminated.”

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