Non-Smokers and Smokers Support Smoking Restrictions in Multiunit Housing

A recent survey shows that West Hollywood residents overwhelmingly prefer strict smoking bans in apartment complexes.

August 26, 2020

By: Lucia Alvarez-Malo Flores

A recent survey of West Hollywood residents confirms what studies in other communities have shown: The majority of people who live in multiunit housing prefer smokefree properties. Over the past year, nearly 400 West Hollywood residents completed the survey which was conducted by the National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA). Marielle Reataza, the project coordinator for NAPAFASA, said: “The surveys were collected from a diverse group of residents to reflect the community, and most of the people who responded to the survey lived in multiunit housing.”

Almost ¾ of the people who completed the survey said if given the choice, they would choose a completely nonsmoking building. Even more (92%) supported a smoking ban in at least some areas of apartment housing.

The survey was completed by non-smokers and people who currently smoke — 21% of the people who were surveyed were current smokers, “This is really important,” explained Reataza. “Our survey results show that there is still a significant amount of smokers that support some kind of smoking regulations in apartment housing. Many smokers understand that second-and thirdhand smoke is annoying and can linger and therefore support smoking bans in some areas of multi-unit housing.” The survey results also show that secondhand smoke is more common than you might think. Almost ½ of the people who completed the survey reported that secondhand smoke from neighboring units drifted into their homes in the past year.

Even more important, second- and thirdhand smoke is not just an annoyance. The health hazards of second- and thirdhand smoke are well-established, and the most effective way to keep both out of a home is with strict smoking bans.  

As part of the survey, participants were asked what actions they take when secondhand smoke drifts into their homes. “A lot of times people don’t actually know that they can file a complaint,” commented Reataza. “Most of the people interviewed said that they didn’t know that they could do something about smoke drifting in from outside, and they feel like they are the only ones with the issue.”

She suggests that the first step for residents who have smoke drifting into their apartment is to bring the issue to their landlord or property manager. They can also bring the problem to the attention of other residents; by doing this they are likely to find they are not the only ones dealing with the problem. They can also contact their local health department’s tobacco control program for resources. Lastly, they can take the problem to their local government.

Reataza explained, “A lot of people aren’t aware that those options are there. It is very important for local government to be made aware of these problems. Our leaders are very much a public service and their jobs are to serve the community. They need to know that this is a concern for residents.” Surveys like this one are important because they can help communities show their elected officials what they want.

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