Fresno

Summit aims to reduce secondhand smoke exposure among children and the elderly living in multi-housing housing throughout the county

A child goes for a spin on his scooter, as his mom, grabs a smoke in front of Sanger Crossing Apartments, where they live, on this filed photo on Jan. 8, 2016. The goal of the Fresno County Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Summit which takes place on Thursday (Dec. 6) is to reducing exposure of secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke in multi-unit housing.
A child goes for a spin on his scooter, as his mom, grabs a smoke in front of Sanger Crossing Apartments, where they live, on this filed photo on Jan. 8, 2016. The goal of the Fresno County Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Summit which takes place on Thursday (Dec. 6) is to reducing exposure of secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke in multi-unit housing. jwalker@fresnobee.com

When it comes to secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke, the Fresno County Tobacco-Free Coalition is being proactive to reduce secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmoking individuals especially children and the elderly living in multi-unit housing throughout the county.

“The Fresno County Tobacco-Free Coalition is working on reducing exposure of secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke in multi-unit housing,” said Leila Gholamrezaei-Eha, Tobacco Prevention Program health educator.

The Fresno County Tobacco-Free Coalition, in partnership with the Fresno County Department of Public Health Tobacco Prevention Program, the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, California Health Collaborative, and the American Lung Association in California are hosting the Fresno County Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing Summit on Thursday (Dec. 6).

This is the first year the summit is taking place in Fresno and attendees will hear from public policy and health experts, housing providers, and community leaders on the state of smoke-free housing in Fresno County and will hear about best practices from cities that have adopted smoke-free housing policies.

“We chose to do this in Fresno County to help give city officials, apartment managers and management companies the tools to navigate the legal landscape of smoke-free housing policies,” said Gholamrezaei-Eha.

The FCDPH Tobacco Prevention Program is inviting city officials, property managers, and management companies to learn how to navigate the legal landscape of smoke-free housing by offering them information, best practices and next steps for adopting and implementing smoke-free policies in apartment complexes.

Participants will leave equipped with the latest data and information on how to pursue this very complex issue.

According to the 2017 Census, approximately 26 percdent of housing in Fresno County is multi-unit housing.

Gholamrezaei-Eha said this summit is important because many “MUH complexes in Fresno County still allow smoking and thousands of MUH tenants are exposed to secondhand smoke every day.”

Every year, approximately 41,000 deaths result from secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmoking adults and more than 1 in 3 renters are exposed to secondhand smoke (SHS) in the home, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are little or no policies in place to protect residents from the effects of SHS exposure in multi-unit housing.

“It is important to educate MUH managers, management companies, and elected officials about the benefits of smoke-free housing,” Gholamrezaei-Eha said. “Smoke-free MUH policies reduce costs such as, lower insurance rates and cleaning fees. These policies also reduce the risk of fires, the number of smoking complaints, and protect the health of their tenants.”

According to those organizing the summit, those residents are usually disproportionately low income with limited access to housing and are often unable to move away from harm. Among the most vulnerable are Latino and African American families with children and seniors with chronic health conditions such as asthma that is made worse by exposure to SHS.

“There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It is especially dangerous for children and the elderly living in MUH complexes where secondhand smoke can drift through shared ventilation systems, outlets, open windows, and cracks in the wall,” Gholamrezaei-Eha said. “Additionally, second hand smoke residue can stick to walls, carpets, curtains, etc. This is referred to as third hand smoke. Tenants could unknowingly be exposed to third hand smoke by moving into a unit that was previously occupied by a smoker.”

The goal of the summit is to contribute to and provide momentum for the creation of more equitable access to smoke-free tobacco and marijuana multi-unit housing in Fresno County, she said.

“Protect your tenants, your residents, yourselves, your neighbors, your children, and your pets from the negative health effects of second-hand smoke,” says Gholamrezaei-Eha.

For more information or to register for the event, contact Alvishia Johnson at (559) 600-6449, by email ajohnson@fresnocountyca.gov or visit https://fresnomuhsummit.eventbrite.com.

María G. Ortiz-Briones: 559-441-6782, @TuValleTuSalud

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