New Anti-Smoking Efforts Target Housing

Boston public health officials push to end smoking in multi-family housing units
Boston public health officials push to end smoking in multi-family housing units

An aggressive push to ban smoking in public spaces continues with Boston Mayor Tom Menino and the city Public Health Commission introducing a new smoke-free housing registry, The Boston Globe reports.

The initiative seeks to resolve a problem posed by secondhand smoke in multiunit housing, where toxic fumes can seep from one apartment to another and bother other residents.

Under program, residents of Boston's smoke-free buildings are protected by a written no-smoking policy that prohibits smoking anywhere inside the building as well as outdoor areas where smoke may contaminate indoor air.

City officials are also set to unveil a public awareness campaign to encourage landlords to list their smoke-free properties and tenants to use it to find housing.

Elias Monteiro, Community Director, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, says the nonprofit has already secured agreements from individuals and families living in 300 of its housing units to become smoke-free.

Within 3-5 years, he says, he expects to convert more than 700 units. "The enforcement piece is something we've got to work on," Monteiro said, adding that monthly support groups are held for residents who want to quit, with resources and education available. "Mostly all the residents want to be smoke-free."

Both Monteiro and his son are chronic asthmatics. "If someone is smoking on a floor above, it effects my son," Monteiro said.

New research led by Dr. Jonathan Winickoff of Massachusetts General Hospital supports the claim that secondhand smoke in multi-family housing units is a huge problem. Even the dangers of third-hand smoke — where the toxic residue of cigarette smoke is left on hair, clothes and furniture to react with ozone in indoor air and form new, hazardous pollutants — are beginning to emerge.

This program aired on October 11, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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