Left to Right: This tobacco control article was written by members of Newpoint SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) Holly Glass, Petra Sadkova, Megan Hackett, and Anastasia Glass under the guidance of Krista Cogburn, Tobacco Educator from the Bay County Health Department (not pictured).
Bay County, Fla. — When it comes to deadly tobacco smoke, “what happens in your home stays in your home” is never true. Tobacco smoke in multi-unit dwellings travels from living unit to living unit without respect for boundaries. “Multi-unit dwellings” refers to apartments, condominiums, nursing homes, dorms, townhouses, hotels, motels, and any other living spaces with shared walls or ventilation systems.
The Tobacco-Free Partnership of Bay County and Students working Against Tobacco (SWAT) assessed thirty local multi-unit housing sites to determine if any had a smoke-free policy in place, which would not allow smoking in or around living units. Three out of thirty units surveyed were found to have smoke-free policies. Waterstone of Springfield apartment complex is completely smoke-free, both inside the units and on property. Cabana West Condominiums and La Villa Cove Apartments also have indoor smoke-free policies. These smoke-free living spaces provide a clean, healthy living environment for tenants. This is especially important for those with asthma, allergies, or other medical problems. Policies of this type protect children, pets and the elderly.
The Florida Department of Health in Bay County has been working with the Tobacco Free Partnership and SWAT, to educate multi-unit housing site managers and owners on the financial and health value to establishing smoke-free policies. It is a fact that second-hand smoke affects non-smokers and smokers alike. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, living with a smoker increases a nonsmoker’s chance of developing lung cancer by 20% to 30% Exposure to secondhand smoke can also cause coronary heart disease and have negative effects on your blood and blood vessels, increasing your risk of heart attack. Heart disease caused by secondhand smoke kills approximately 46,000 nonsmokers every year.
SWAT members will continue to keep Bay County citizens informed on this and other tobacco related issues. Please call Peggy Caldwell, Tobacco Prevention Specialist at the Florida Department of Health in Bay County at 850-872-4455 ext. 1136 if you wish to have more information or become involved in this area of tobacco control. Visit www.baycountyhealth.org for more information.