For more than five years the Bay Area Community Resources SUNSET Tobacco Education Project has been working hard to help “clear the air” for San Franciscans living in multi-unit housing (a building with 2 or more housing units). With funding from the California Department of Public Health, SUNSET exceeded expectations through collaboration and networking, research, data collection, and community outreach. As of May 2015, SUNSET has worked with 7 multi-unit housing complexes in San Francisco that committed to being smoke-free by changing their lease agreements to include no smoking in any units! These properties are leased and rented by people from many different countries and backgrounds that are now protected in their own homes from the dangers that drifting smoke can bring.
The ability to live in a smoke-free home is a choice that everyone should have. Unfortunately for those who live in multi-family buildings such as apartments and condominiums, breathing secondhand smoke from neighboring units has become a real health problem. Secondhand smoke exposure is dangerous at any level, and smoke often times seeps into neighboring units through cracks in the walls, ventilation systems and open windows.
Smoke-free multi-unit housing policies are usually voluntary. However, smoke-free multi-unit housing policies are legal and relatively easy to implement. There is no legal right to smoke, therefore designating multi-unit housing as smoke-free is not discriminatory. By adopting smoke-free policies, multi-unit housing communities can: protect residents from secondhand smoke, encourage healthy behaviors, lower fire risks, and reduce turnover of residents which saves money. It’s a win-win situation for all!