Multi-unit Housing

Secondhand Smoke in Homes

What is it?
Many Los Angeles County residents live in apartments, condominiums, and other types of homes that share walls.

Many residents are not aware that cigarette and tobacco smoke can travel from one neighbor’s home to another, the same way that noises and cooking smells can travel.

This traveling smoke is called secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is the smoke that comes from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke that is exhaled by a smoker.

Why is secondhand smoke a problem?
Scientific studies show that toxic secondhand smoke can drift into and out of open windows and doors. It can even travel through shared air vents and ducts; cracks in walls; gaps around electrical wiring; lights and plumbing; and through floor boards.

Secondhand Smoke Exposure Still Impacts LA County Residents
Non-smokers, and even smokers that don’t smoke in their homes, can be exposed to elevated pollution levels from breathing in smoke from neighboring apartments. Secondhand smoke has been shown to cause harmful health effects in adults, children and family pets.                                                                                Pets

According to the 2015 Los Angeles County Health Survey:

  • 585,000 Households adults are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke at home while 178,000 households with children are regularly exposed to tobacco smoke.

Secondhand smoke can lead to thirdhand smoke
In addition to risks of inhaling tobacco smoke, secondhand smoke residue clings to furniture, clothing, rugs, walls, and floors. This tobacco residue, or fine particulate matter may linger for months, mixing with common pollutants to form carcinogens that are potentially hazardous. This residue is known as thirdhand smoke. This means that you could be exposed to toxins if a smoker lived in your home before you did. In fact, even if you can’t see or smell tobacco smoke, tobacco smoke residue may still be present in your home.

The U.S. Surgeon General concluded that eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke exposure. Separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot completely eliminate secondhand and thirdhand smoke exposure.

How do I report secondhand smoke exposure in my home?
First, check with your landlord or home owner association to review the smoking policy at your apartment or condo complex. Review the policy and follow the procedure for reporting a smoking complaint.

Secondly, if your apartment building or condo complex does not have a smoking policy, you can call the Los Angeles County Department of Public health Tobacco Control & Prevention Program. Staff may be able to refer you to resources and organizations that can help you address the secondhand smoke exposure in your home.

LA County Tobacco Control & Prevention Program
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday – Friday
Main: (213) 351-7890

How do I report secondhand smoke exposure in my home?
To date, in Los Angeles County, 14 local jurisdictions have adopted smoke-free multi-unit housing policies. These include Baldwin Park, Burbank, Calabasas, Carson, Compton, Culver City, El Monte, Glendale, Huntington Park, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Santa Monica, South Pasadena, and Temple City.

More resources:
Tobacco Free CA
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Smoke-free Apartments Registry
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR)
Breathe California of Los Angeles County
California Air Resources Board
Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles
Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles
California’s Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing – SmokeFree Housing
ChangeLab Solutions – SmokeFree Housing
Campaign for Smoke-Free Choice in Pasadena Housing
California Smokers’ Helpline

Featured Videos

Learn more about living healthy and tobacco free in LA County by watching these videos.