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PHAI RELEASES LIFE WITHOUT SMOKE: NEW SURVEY REVEALS STRONG DEMAND FOR SMOKE-FREE HOUSING – Owners indicate growing interest and value in making properties

April 24th, 2009

Since 2004 when Massachusetts passed the smoke free workplace law, all public places and the vast majority of workplaces have been smoke free.  However, those living in multiunit dwellings, like apartment buildings and condominiums, are sometimes exposed to secondhand smoke drifting in from a neighboring unit.  The US EPA classifies secondhand smoke as a Human (Group A) Carcinogen, with no safe level of exposure and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has noted an increase in the number of complaints on involuntary exposure in the home.

Recent surveys conducted by the Public Health Advocacy Institute (PHAI) at the Northeastern University School of Law show a high demand for smoke-free policies among residents.  PHAI is working with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to encourage the voluntary implementation of building-wide smoke free rules in multiunit dwellings.

Click here for full survey results.

“There’s a great demand for smoke-free housing,” said Chris Banthin, Director of PHAI.    “Whether or not to go smoke-free is a decision for the residents and owners of multiunit dwellings.  Our role is to give residents and owners the information they need to make an informed decision.”

The survey of 1,300 residents of multiunit dwellings yielded the following key findings:

The survey of 300 owners of residential rental properties found the following key findings:

A no smoking rule is an effective way to protect residents from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the PHAI.  PHAI provides education as well as technical and legal guidance directly to owners and residents across the entire spectrum of housing types.  Those who smoke are welcome in smoke free properties, they are just asked to smoke outside so that their neighbors are not exposed to this health hazard.

The US EPA classifies secondhand smoke as a Human (Group A) Carcinogen, with no safe level of exposure.  This is the same category as Asbestos, Benzene and other highly toxic substances.  Exposure to secondhand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of death in Massachusetts.

The resident survey included 1,304 telephone interviews with residents of multi-unit properties in Amherst, Cambridge, Brookline, Easthampton, Hadley, Jamaica Plain, Newton, Northampton, Somerville, Southampton and Watertown.  The questionnaire screened respondents to ensure that they resided in a multi-unit rental property or condominium before asking questions designed to measure demand for smoke-free rules.  The owner survey included 300 written questionnaires completed by respondents in the same communities as the resident survey.

In conjunction will local health departments, he Public Health Advocacy Institute will be holding free meetings in Brookline, Cambridge, and Northampton, MA  to give basic legal advice, provide sample lease and condominium documents, and share the latest market research on the demand for smoke-free properties. Q&A sessions will follow each presentation.

The dates and times are:

May 4, 2009
Brookline Library (see printable information for this event)
6:30pm-7:30pm; 7:30pm-8:30pm

May 6, 2009
Brookline Health Department
10am-11am; 11am-12noon; 2om-3pm; 3:30pm-4:30pm

May 18, 2009
Cambridge, Cambridge Health Alliance’s Windsor Street Clinic
6pm-7pm; 7:30pm-8:30pm

May 20, 2009
Cambridge, Cambridge Health Alliance’s Windsor Street Clinic
1:30pm-2:30pm; 3pm-4pm

June 10, 2009
Northampton, Forbes Library
1pm-2pm; 5:30pm-6:30pm; 7pm-8pm

For more information on the issue, visit:

http://www.makesmokinghistory.org/secondhandsmoke/housing.html

Note:  The Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Public
Health Advocacy Institute have developed guides on how to implement a
smoke-free rule in condominiums and residential rental properties. The guides
are available at http://www.makesmokinghistory.org

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