FRIDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- As many as 29 million U.S. apartment dwellers who have no smoking rules for their own homes are exposed to secondhand smoke seeping in from neighboring apartments and common areas, federal officials reported Friday.
"A quarter of all Americans live in some form of multi-unit housing, and these individuals and families are potentially exposed to secondhand smoke that enters their home from somewhere else," said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Office on Smoking and Health.
"There had been individual studies done looking at effects of secondhand smoke in apartments, but this is the first time that we had tried to figure out how it all hangs together nationally," he added.
Exposure to secondhand smoke in apartments is not something a renter can control, McAfee said. "Even if they had a smoke-free home rule, they are being involuntarily exposed to secondhand smoke from their neighbors," he said.
The best way to protect people living in apartments is by prohibiting smoking in all units and shared areas of a building, McAfee said. This can be accomplished by state or city laws or by individual landlords, he said.
McAfee said many U.S. cities are thinking about banning smoking in apartments. Also, more apartment buildings are becoming smoke-free. And, the U.S. Department of Urban Development and Housing is encouraging public housing around the country to be smoke-free, he added.
The only thing a person can do is not rent an apartment in a building where smoking is allowed, McAfee said.
Many people, however, don't want smoking in their building and, over time, there will be more and more smoke-free apartment buildings, McAfee predicted. "I think this will be one of those things, like smoking in restaurants and workplaces, where we are going to see a switch pretty quickly," he
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