Why Oakland Needs a Smoke-Free, Multi-Unit Housing Policy
(Published in the Oakland Post on April 4 2017)
By Marlene C. Hurd
I agree with the opinion published in the March 16 Post, titled “Teaching is Necessary To Show our Youth How To Avoid Prison as A Life Choice.” I’m writing to educate our entire Oakland community to explain why Oakland Needs a Multi-Unit Smoke Free-Housing Policy.
This is a social justice issue.
Smoking and tobacco products kill more African- Americans than, alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drug use, homicide, suicide, and other non-tobacco related cancers. We must educate our youth and communities regarding the dangers in smoking to avoid it being an unhealthy life choice for them.
In December 2016, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development published a final rule to initiate a smoke-free policy for all public housing authorities. Effective Feb. 3, 2017, all public housing authorities have 18-months to pass such a policy.
Examples of smoke- free environments in California are, workplaces, restaurants, indoor public areas, parks, outdoor dining and cars carrying children up to 18 .It would be great if all multi-unit housing in Oakland were smoke free not just those in public housing.
What is second hand smoke (SHS)? The smoke exhaled by the person who is smoking and the smoke burning off the tip of the cigarette.
SHS is a known carcinogen and is as deadly as the worst industrial air pollutants. The smoke has 4,000 chemicals; 250 are toxic and at least 69 can cause cancer. No level of secondhand tobacco smoke is safe – period.
What is the problem? Expose to SHS in multi-unit properties creates health dangers for tenants, children and the elderly. The smoke drifts and travels throughout a building.
Why does this matter to me? I have personally encountered second hand smoke where I live, and my experience made me ill enough to so that I was couching, and the SHS affected my breathing.
Now, when I come in contact with SHS, I personally educate the smoker about the dangers. I also provide them with resources where they can get help.
Breathing clean air while living in a multi-unit housing building is a health equity issue.
Tenants want to restrict smoking in these building. Tenants experiencing SHS have noted it being a #1 complaint.
In the Bay Area many adults do not smoke. The majority of residents believe that everyone has a right to live in a smoke-free building.
Smoking is banned where most adults work and play. In your home where young children, the elderly, and the disabled spend most of their time, are you protected from SHS?
Cities in the Bay Area that have passed similar smoke-free housing laws, are: Alameda, Belmont, Berkeley, Burlingame, El Cerrito, Foster City, Petaluma, Richmond, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sebastopol, Union City, Walnut Creek, Unincorporated areas of Santa Clara, Sonoma, and San Mateo counties.
The City of Oakland could add its name to this list by passing a multi-unit housing smoke-free policy.
Oakland needs a strong 100 percent smoke-free multi-unit housing policy.
We must educate our youth and communities about why Oakland needs it.