Do you and your family live in an apartment? Do you know if your property allows smoking? If you do not know the answers to these questions, you may be at risk of being exposed to secondhand smoke. If you answered yes to those questions, and you or your family members do not smoke, you might want to consider living in a place that keeps you safe from that exposure.
What is secondhand smoke?
Secondhand smoke is any smoke that comes from a cigarette, cigar, pipe or perhaps even an e-cigarette (in the form of the vapor). Even if you are not directly next to someone who is using any of these tobacco products, you may be at risk for exposure through drifting smoke in your apartment. Smoke can enter under the thresholds, through the electrical and plumbing systems and of course open doors and windows. There is even third hand smoke exposure from the carpets, paint and hard surfaces in many apartments.
Why is it dangerous?
There are over 7,000 chemicals that may be in the smoke that you inhale. 250 of those chemicals are known to be harmful and at least 69 of them can cause cancer. Some of those chemicals that can drift your way are arsenic, carbon monoxide, cyanide, formaldehyde, lead and nickel.
What are your risks?
Short term effects of smoke exposure are frequent colds, cough, chest discomfort, lung infection and reduced lung function and asthma. In young children and pets those risks and others increase. Long term exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart disease, emphysema, lung cancer and even premature death. There are even increased risk of developing numerous cancers like leukemia and breast cancer.
What can you do?
If you smoke or vape, stop. If you don’t smoke or vape, don’t start. Eliminate or reduce being around anyone who smokes or vapes. If you live in an apartment that allows smoking and you have smokers in apartments surrounding you, ask if you can be moved to an apartment that does not have smokers near it. When your lease has expired, consider moving to a smoke-free property. If you do not want to move, have a conversation with your property manager about going smoke-free. Another possibility is meeting with your apartment community group (if there is one) to approach the property manager about going smoke-free.
Is it ever safe?
Unfortunately, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. The safest thing for you and your family members is to avoid exposure at all costs.
Need more information? Check out our website smokefreeliving.jocogov.org