Nothing beats coming home to a cozy, festive house during the holiday season—unless that house is filled with secondhand tobacco smoke. Smoking in your home is not only an unnecessary fire risk, but also dangerous to your—and your family and friends’—health. Even though less people are smoking cigarettes, 40% of St. Johns County 11 – 17 year olds are exposed to secondhand smoke within the past 7 days. For most youth, they are exposed to SHS in their home or car.
“For children, exposure to secondhand smoke is linked to increased incidence of ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and serious conditions such as asthma,” says Vicki Evans, Tobacco Program Manager from Northeast Florida Area Health Education Center and member of Tobacco Free St. Johns. “SHS is known to contain over 250 toxic or cancer-causing chemicals, so there is no safe level of exposure. Even non-smoking adults are at risk of developing tobacco-related illnesses like emphysema if they are around tobacco smoke often.”
Smoking inside your home can even affect your neighbors if you live in a multi-unit community. Multi-unit buildings (apartments, townhomes, condos) share air from unit to unit. When a person smokes inside their unit, the secondhand smoke travels. This isn’t to say that clouds of tobacco smoke billow through an apartment complex, but rather the 250 toxic or cancer-causing chemical drift into neighboring units through ventilation systems, plumbing, electrical lines, cracks in walls and doorways. Across Florida, many multi-unit communities have smoke-free policies to protect their residents’ health.
So this holiday season, take steps to make sure family and friends can clearly reflect on traditions and time spent together—and not through a haze of secondhand smoke. Multi-unit residents can contact Tobacco Free St. Johns for help in talking with landlords about smoke-free policy options. And to smokers, pledge to not smoke in your homes and let Tobacco Free Florida help you quit for good! You can ring in the New Year with free tobacco cessation services though the “3 Ways to Quit” program. From the Tobacco Free St. Johns partnership, “may all your days be merry and bright!”
More information can be found by visiting TobaccoFreeFlorida.com or TobaccoFreeStJohns.com.