I happened to mention recently that smoking in France really affects apartment buildings, especially since so many are above restaurants and cafes -- and there is almost always an outdoor space for eating, generally in front of the cafe itself.
A couple of French people came down hard on me, informing me that smoking in restaurants and other public buildings is banned and to "stop living in the 80s!"
I'm not sure what the last part meant (were they calling me old or out of touch?!) but I am aware of the public bans.
What they seemed to be unaware of was that when we are lucky enough to visit France, we choose to stay in apartments or lofts, instead of hotels. It's half the cost and twice the fun.
Last year we had a beautiful home built in the 1600s in the heart of an ancient harbor town. Naturally we flung all the windows open every to watch the water, the people and to breathe in the delicious scents of bakeries, outdoor food markets, cafes.
But unfortunately, what permeated our senses the most was the cigarette smoke -- so much so that we had to keep the windows on the second floor closed for half the day, as it filtered in so badly that even our kids made comments.
While people have the right to smoke, it made me wonder about how people living in these kinds of apartments deal with this all the time.
Do they care? Do they even notice?
It turns out that they do -- a lot, especially in the United States, a country that is admittedly far more anti-smoking than many others. A new study, led by Dr. Karen Wilson, the section head of pediatric hospital medicine at Children's Hospital Colorado, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, saw that concern over secondhand smoke filtering into the homes of non-smokers is a big problem.
The study asked a total of 323 respondents (who were part of a larger study done in 2011) who lived in apartment buildings if secondhand smoke was an issue for them.
The participants had been living in smoke-free homes for at least three months. One-third of them replied that secondhand smoke was indeed affecting their homes, with 38 percent saying they were affected at least once a week and 12 percent saying that they were affected on a daily basis.
Among apartment dwellers without children, 60 percent reported smoke entering their homes, with 34 percent of residents with kids saying they felt the effect of the smoke. It was the opposite in common areas -- families were more likely to smell smoke than those without children.
As said by Dr. Wilson, these results show that a general ban on smoking in apartment buildings is far better than a partial ban when it comes to avoiding the pitfalls of secondhand smoke. A partial ban generally means smoking is allowed in apartment units but not in common areas.
She believes that residents should talk to their landlords about smoking rules and ask that they consider full bans, if they are not already in place.
Secondhand smoke can cause a significant impact on health. According to EmpowHER's Elizabeth Smoots, MD, in her article about the effects of secondhand smoke, it contains more than 200 poisons, some with carcinogenic (cancer causing) effects.
She said, "In the US, secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (By comparison, active cigarette smoking leads to over 161,840 lung cancer deaths yearly.) The Agency classifies ETS as a Group A carcinogen—a category reserved only for the most dangerous cancer-causing agents in humans."
Smoking causes other cancers including throat, mouth, cervix, stomach and kidney and also causes respiratory illnesses like bronchitis, and can trigger asthma attacks. Smoking is also a cause of heart disease.
Anti-smoking groups believe the evidence showing the dangers of secondhand smoking is clear enough to enforce general and full bans in apartment/condo buildings.
Do you live in an apartment or condo dwelling where secondhand smoke is an issue? Do you think there should be a full ban on smoking in these buildings or does this infringe on the rights of smokers?
Health.com via Yahoo News. Secondhand Smoke Permeates Many Apartment Buildings: Study. Web. Sunday, April 29, 2012. http://news.yahoo.com/secondhand-smoke-permeates-many-apartment-building...
EmpowHER.com. Dangers of Secondhand Smoke by Elizabeth Smoots, MD. Web. Sunday, April 29, 2012.
Reviewed May 1, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith