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Unequal Protection: Secondhand Smoke Threatens Health of Tenants in Multi-Unit Housing in Los Angeles

April 6, 2016

Policy Brief

Authors: Ying-Ying Meng, DrPH, Tamanna Rahman, Daniel Hanaya, MPP, Vanessa Lam, Marlene Gomez, MPH, Peggy Toy, M.A., Steven P. Wallace, PhD

Secondhand smoke is dangerous to a person’s health at any level of exposure. Yet policies that prevent smoking are not in place for a majority of market-rate multi-unit housing complexes, according to this survey of nearly 1,000 apartment dwellers in the city of Los Angeles.

Approximately 37 percent of respondents reported that secondhand smoke had drifted into their apartments in the past year. Households with members of vulnerable populations, such as children or individuals with chronic conditions, are more likely to report smoke drifting from adjacent units. Four out of five respondents — including more than half of those who self-reported currently smoking — supported a smoke-free policy in common areas and/or individual units.

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