How we can do more
In reference to Ron Merkinís Aug. 4 commentary about smoking in rental apartments, it is too bad he could not move into a lovely apartment due to the smoke coming from a neighboring unit. But to protect his health and quality of living, he made the right call.
As Mr. Merkin pointed out, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Itís especially dangerous for children, the elderly and anyone with chronic disease. Secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of learning disabilities in children and sudden infant death syndrome. It causes asthma and increases the risk of a heart attack and lung cancer. The American Lung Association in Williston receives many complaints from tenants and condominium owners suffering from smoke from a neighboring unit.
Smoke does not stay in the apartment of the smoker; it moves through outlets and microscopic cracks in the walls and floors. It seeps in and out of windows and doors ó even closed ones. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, the only way to effectively remove dangerous toxins from smoking is to ban smoking.
Itís important for property managers considering a smoke-free policy to communicate with tenants from the start, and there are resources available in Vermont to help with the process.
As Peg Gibbud said in the commentary, the Rutland Housing Authority is teaming up with the Rutland Regional Medical Center to offer smoking cessation for those smokers who want to quit smoking. Other hospitals and organizations across the state, including community coalitions and Support Services at Home, are working with property managers and tenants to ensure a successful transition to healthy, smoke-free living. To learn more, visit the American Lung Associationís smoke-free housing website, www.smokefreehousingvt.org, or call 876-6862.
The writer is director of health education and public policy for the American Lung Association in Vermont.
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