Secondhand Smoke Exposure: The Real Harm and What You Should Be Doing To Fix It

Los Angeles County Residents are facing an ongoing and serious health issue that some may not even realize is happening.

Over the last few years California has made big strides towards eliminating this health issue in the workplace and public areas but the many Californians who live in multi-unit housing are still facing this real problem.

ExEposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing 49,830 non-smokers each year, including 3,400 deaths from lung cancer, 46,000 deaths from CHD, and 430 deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (LA County Public Health Department, 2019).

Aside from the more serious effects, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also estimates that SHS causes more than 300,000 cases of asthma, bronchitis, middle ear infections, and pneumonia in children each year in the U.S. (LA County Public Health Department, 2019).

Secondhand smoke can travel within multiunit housing through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, ventilation systems, and plumping. Opening windows and fans does not completely remove secondhand smoke and heating/air conditioning ventilation systems cannot eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. (CDC)

Here at Allegra Consulting we take the issue of SHS exposure very serious, which is why we were excited to collaborate with the Los Angeles County Health Department on a project that’s goal is to educate their county and help the residents live better, healthier lives, said Suzanne Madison, CEO of Allegra Consulting.

About 8 in 10 multi-unit housing residents choose to make their homes smoke-free. (CDC) However, this does not stop from secondhand smoke from entering your home.

Secondhand smoke doesn’t just affect you, but it also affects children, the elderly, and your pets. Children who breathe secondhand smoke regularly can suffer from asthma attacks, bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, and more. Cats, dogs, birds, and other pets exposed to secondhand smoke may breathe it in or lick it off their fur. This exposure can cause serious breathing problems or cancer. (Tobacco Education Clearinghouse of California, 2019)

It’s time to start protecting yourself and your family. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Post No Smoking signs in your home.
  • If you or someone close to you smokes, get help quitting.
  • Educate your family and friends on the full effects of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Ask nearby smokers to smoke away from windows and doors.
  • Talk to your neighbors if you notice smoke drifting into your home and ask them to smoke outside away from your house.
  • Report your concerns to your building manager or landlord and ask for nonsmoking rules in your complex and common areas.

If you’re interested in learning more about the harmful effects of tobacco and second hand smoke, visit or