ETS Exposure

This page last reviewed August 11, 2015

image of apartment Environmental Tobacco Smoke in Multi-Unit Housing

Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) in multi-unit housing (apartments, condominiums, etc.) is a growing concern. The California public is now protected from exposure to ETS in all indoor public workplaces (with a few exceptions), therefore being exposed in your own home has become a greater nuisance for the non-smoking public (85% of Californians). While the indoor common areas of multi-family housing complexes (including hallways, stairwells, laundry and recreation rooms) are considered workplaces under the State's workplace smoking ban, secondhand smoke(SHS) in adjoining units of an apartment complex or condominium can seep in and expose non-smokers who may then suffer adverse health effects. The California Department of Health Services says that even if apartment residents do not smoke in their home they are still at risk from SHS seepage through shared walls, ventilation systems, doors and windows. According to John Howard MD, Chief of the California Dvision of Occupational Safety and Health (CAL OSHA), SHS can "move through light fixtures, ceiling crawl spaces, and into and out of doorways." This puts tenants at risk for "irritant, allergic, acute and chronic cardiopulmonary and carcinogenic adverse health effects." To learn more about the risks of drifting SHS in multi-unit housing and what you can do to avoid it, follow this link.

Links to more information on ETS exposure in multi-unit housing, and how landlords and tenants can work to reduce exposure are provided below.

Exposure information for tenants and condominium owners:

American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation Secondhand Smoke in Apartments and Condominiums
Smoke-Free Apartment Website dedicated to informing tenants of their rights and resources regarding SHS
The Smoker Next Door Handling Unwanted Tobacco Smoke in Apartments and Condominiums
Smoke-Free Housing Information for tenants on how to live in a home free of secondhand smoke
Smoke-Free Housing for Seniors A list of smoke-free housing options in California for Seniors
Smoke-Free Environments Law Project Analysis of Voluntary and Legal Options of Condominium Owners Confronted with Secondhand Smoke from Another Condominium Unit
News Release New ads by California Department of Health Services highlight dangers of secondhad smoke drifting in apartment complexes

Exposure information for landlords:

U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development Smoke Free Housing ToolsToolkit to help federally assisted housing managers adopt smoke free policies
Technical Assistance Legal Center How Landlords Can Prohibit Smoking in Rental Housing
Smoke-Free Lease Addendum Forms for adding a smoke-free aspect to lease agreements
Smoke-Free Condominiums or Apartments Model policy for making apartments and condominiums smoke-free
Smoke-Free Resources for Landlords What Landlords can do to make their complex smoke-free
Smoke-Free Apartment Website dedicated to informing landlords on eliminating secondhand smoke in apartments

Exposure information for California Cities and Counties:

Smoke-Free Model Ordinance
A model ordinance to help California cities and counties limit exposure to SHS in multi-unit residences.

Background Information on SHS:

Health Harms from Secondhand Smoke Fact sheet on SHS and its health effects
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assesment (OEHHA) Secondhand Smoke and Children's Health

Contact us if you have any questions regarding ARB's ETS program, or have suggestions or comments on this page.

Robert Krieger: (916) 323-1202