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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Infiltration of Secondhand Smoke into Condominiums, Apartments and Other Multi-Unit Dwellings


Abstract The death toll from secondhand tobacco smoke is staggering. Secondhand smoke is responsible for the early deaths of up to 65,000 Americans annually and for every eight smokers who die from smoking, one nonsmoker dies. Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals and 43 carcinogens, including formaldehyde, cyanide, arsenic, carbon monoxide, benzene, and radioactive polonium-210. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies secondhand smoke as a Group A carcinogen, for which there is no safe level of human exposure. As public knowledge about secondhand smoke increases, renters and condominium owners are becoming increasingly concerned about the health threat of secondhand smoke infiltration. This law synopsis makes it clear that landlords, condominium associations, and the like may prohibit smoking in individual units. The author provides solutions for private individuals if secondhand smoke is seeping into their dwellings from neighboring units and outlines enforcement concerns expressed by landlords and the advantages of specifically addressing smoking in the lease. The synopsis also provides specific smoke-free language for use in a lease or in condominium bylaws.

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