Re: “Smoke-free in apartments?” (TNT, 8-29).
I support PUSH (People United for Smoke-free Housing) for bringing the issue of smoke-free apartments to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Board, whose job it is to safeguard the health of our community.
The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s report regarding secondhand smoke states:
• It causes premature death and disease in children and in adults who do not smoke (50,000 deaths annually).
• Children have an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, acute respiratory infections, ear problems and more severe asthma. Smoking by parents causes breathing (respiratory) symptoms and slows lung growth in their children.
• It immediately affects the heart and blood circulation in a harmful way. Over a longer time it also causes heart disease and lung cancer.
• The scientific evidence shows that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
• The only way to fully protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke indoors is to prevent all smoking in that indoor space or building. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot keep nonsmokers from being exposed to secondhand smoke.
Research reviewed in this report indicates that smoke-free policies are the most economic and effective approach for providing protection from exposure to secondhand smoke. However separating smokers and nonsmokers in the same airspace is not effective, nor is air cleaning or a greater exchange of indoor with outdoor air.
Research indicates that the progressive restriction of smoking in the United States to protect nonsmokers has had the additional health impact of reducing active smoking.
(Henson is co-chair of the Tobacco-free Alliance of Pierce County.)