Fight against secondhand smoking

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Fresh air is a precious commodity and a right for all New Yorkers, but many multi-unit dwellings are not smoke-free environments.

Tenants and property owners are subjected to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke even when they have chosen not to smoke themselves. According to the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, secondhand smoke cannot be contained. Even cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate the health hazards of secondhand smoke exposure.

We need to protect our most vulnerable residents: our children. In New York City, more than 200,000 children are exposed to secondhand smoke in the place they should be safest: their own homes. Some of these children are entering hospital emergency rooms suffering from asthma attacks induced by the cigarette smoke they are forced to breathe.

From a purely economic standpoint, the cost of rehabilitating a residential unit occupied by heavy smokers, totals more than $3,500. A no-smoking policy can reduce the cost of physical property damage while a 100 percent, smoke-free, multi-unit dwelling means higher property values, lower fire risk and lower insurance rates.

Exercise your right to breathe smoke-free air in your home by contacting your landlord and local city officials to request a smoking ban in your complex. We can all enjoy the long-term benefits to our health and property.

Joan M. Bush

Health Educator

North Shore-LIJ Health System

Great Neck

Posted 3:02 am, December 22, 2011
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Reader feedback

Charles Beward says:
Dr. Philippe Even, a world-renowned pulmonologist and past president of the prestigious Research Institute Necker, stated flatly that bans on smoking in public places –– the psychosis, he calls it –– are based on "Absolutely nothing!" And private apartments are hardly public places. I think the Health Educator should first do her homework before peddling such nonsense as she has here. Hype and over-hype; that's the name of the game:

When it comes to secondhand smoke, truth is always the first casualty. It all began with Sir George Godber at the 1975 UN 3rd World Conference on Smoking and Health, when, in an effort to stop people smoking, he said, "... it would be essential to foster an atmosphere where it was perceived that active smokers would injure those around them, especially their family and any infants or young children who would be exposed involuntarily to ETS."
Dec. 24, 2011, 1:59 am
Audrey Silk from Brooklyn says:
Between the TV commercials, press releases and letters to editors all over NYS, it's quite clear that the next concerted -- and incremental -- effort by the Prohibitionists is in full swing. These are all forms of media advocacy that can be found in their playbook to establish something as a "real" issue. With that explained, not only is the EPA report of 1992 -- based on nonsmoking spouses living with smoking spouses over a lifetime! -- that began all this fear over exposure to cigarette smoke still in debate but now they want you to really throw out the standard bearer of toxicology: The Dose Makes the Poison. The phrase, "health hazard of secondhand smoke" is no more applicable here than if one were to say "health hazard of aspirin" because if enough are taken you can overdose. But this is how they prey on fears, the ignorant, and anyone just looking for any reason to defend their intolerance for smokers.

The economic angle is just as disturbing. It's an invention of the Prohibitionists. 10 years ago was renting an apartment in which the tenant smoked lamented as being an expensive endeavor?? ALL apartments are cleaned prior to re-rental. It costs no more to shampoo a rug or paint a wall that would be done anyway. If not, you've got a bad landlord. But that's not even the half of it that offends me. It's the disregard of the counter cost. What price is freedom?? It's priceless. To stack an alleged cost of "rehabilitating an apt." up against the cost to freedom is a danger no errant, harmless whiff of cigarette smoke can equal.

Give in to this "multi-unit" crusade and mark my words, once conquered -- just like restaurants, then bars, then parks -- PRIVATE homes will be next. We'll once again here how "the children" (they remarkably are everywhere as you never hear a Prohibitionist fail to say it's for them) shouldn't be "exposed" to the neighbor's smoke while playing in their yard next door.

They want Prohibition but instead of having the guts to stand up to Congress and an industry -- no matter how demonized -- that has the resources to fight on equal ground, and ask for the illegalization of the product , they bully their fellow voiceless and penniless man into a de facto Prohibition. Cowards (and liars) all.

Founder, NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.)
Dec. 24, 2011, 3:58 am
Rick D from Bellerose Manor, Queens says:
I originally thought the ban on smoking in public spaces like parks and beaches was a bit over-the-top, but I have to admit, I like it. I can now enjoy the park bench without being forced to move away because someone wants to light up upwind from me.

Whether or not second-hand smoke is dangerous, for non-smokers, it just smells terrible. Besides the immediate offensiveness of falling within a cigarette's plume, that stink tends to remain in clothing for quite a few hours.

If the smell penetrates through a smoker's front apartment door or through the walls, then I believe that smoker should be required to make modifications so the smell can't make it past his/her own private walls.
Dec. 24, 2011, 6:42 am
Audrey Silk from Brooklyn says:
Rick D, I appreciate your attempt to find a civil solution to smoking in one's own apartment. Can I ask that you rethink what you've rethunk about park bans? An odor? Really? That's enough to rescind a civil liberty? Or that it's too much trouble to move? You opt for the most extreme solution -- a tyranny over your fellow man -- rather than moving away? If that's all it takes then I propose that no children be allowed outside the playground area because when they're sitting next to me on a bench their behavior is so stressful to me and their screams are so loud that I get physically ill. People who are allergic to dogs should propose that they not be allowed outside because when they pass one they get physically ill. As a dog owner of one who sheds enough fur to knit a new dog daily I can't help but carry it on my clothes no matter how far away I keep it from her. Along with my dog then, I too should be banned so that no one with an allergy should have to move away from me. The list can go on and on. At whose discomfort do we draw the line? And who will be the final arbiter. Stack the authoritative body with folks from PETA and you can bet the odor of cooked meat becomes a target. If we want to remain free we must respect even the odors or such whatnot that bothers us. A civil society copes. An uncivil society lives under a tryanny where eventually you're even afraid to sneeze lest your neighbor or the authorities come after you because "it's on the list."
Dec. 25, 2011, 2:28 am
DaJuan Hayes from Manhattan says:
This is astonishing.

First smoking was banned in stores and offices. Fine.

Then smoking was banned in restaurants. A bit of an inconvenience for people who like having a cigarette after a nice meal, but that's the way it goes.

THEN smoking was banned in bars. Many people thought this regulation was going a bit too far, but the health of employees took precedence ... even if the employees were smokers also.

Most recently smoking was banned in parks. Even in 843-acre Central Park, police will descend on you if you light up a cigarette.

AND NOW the militant anti-smokers are saying that people can't even smoke in their own homes.

Dec. 27, 2011, 8:55 am
Rick D from Bellerose Manor says:
Ms. Silk,

I have moved from the benches I've sat on to eat my lunch several times after someone's lit up. Not all the time, it depends on whether it's blowing toward me or not. I once moved three times in 30 minutes during my lunch break during the summer. That was quite annoying.

I still cannot eat my lunch on the plaza outside the building where I work because of the cloud of smoke, It's ironic that I have to go inside for fresh air.

I admit, I have a much more sensitive sense of smell than most. But even other people comment on whether I've been smoking when I come back from certain public areas where I've picked up the scent from other people's habit.
Dec. 29, 2011, 2:37 pm

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