PHAI’s Gottlieb co-authors new study showing increased tobacco smoke expsoure of kids in multi-unit housing

Today, Wilson et al., published a new study in the journal Pediatrics demonstrating that children who live in homes in which no one smokes inside have a 45% increase in cotinine levels if they live in apartments compared with detached homes. The findings came through analysis of data from the 2001–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

What this means is that it is likely that tobacco smoke from other units in attached housing results in tobacco smoke exposure for residents of “non-smoking” units.  Because there is no risk-free level of tobacco smoke exposure, there are several policy implications here:

  1. Potential residents of multi-unit housing should carefully check a building’s smoking policy before moving in because there is no such thing as a smoke-free home if there is smoking in the building;
  2. Landlords need to understand that a permissive smoking policy means more than increased fire risk and maintenance costs and should act accordingly; and
  3. While we may all respect the privacy rights associated with the home, tobacco smoke does not.

This study provides important evidence that the growing trend in smoke-free housing, besides enhancing property values, reducing fire risks and lowering maintenance costs, makes the home a safer place or everyone, particularly children and others who spend the most time indoors such as the elderly and disabled.

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About Mark Gottlieb

Mark Gottlieb joined the staff of the Public Health Advocacy Institute in 1993 after graduating from Northeastern University School of Law. His efforts have focused on researching tobacco litigation as a public health strategy as director of the Tobacco Products Liability Project, reducing the harm caused by secondhand tobacco smoke through a variety of legal and policy approaches, fostering scholarship using tobacco industry documents, and, more recently, examining legal and policy approaches to address obesity. He is the Executive Director of the Institute and lives in Cambridge, MA with his wife and three children.