by Anthony Pico
The Youth Policy Leaders Health Rights Campaign (YPL) is a program that encourages and supports youth (ages 14-24) to be advocates for positive change in their community and themselves. A big focus for the YPL right now is tobacco-related legislation and helping to create a multi-unit smoke-free housing movement in San Francisco.
The YPL is run by the Bay Area Community Resources (BACR), a regional 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency headquartered in San Rafael, California that provides a range of services in seven counties around the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1976, BACR delivers services at more than 100 school- and community-based sites in the following program areas: after school, alcohol and drug, healthy communities, mental health, national service, tobacco, youth leadership and workforce development, and fiscal intermediary services.
YPL has found that 98% of new buildings are multi-unit housing, and that 1 in 3 non-smokers in such buildings are exposed to secondhand smoke. Because of the nuisance and public health hazard secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing poses, YPL was inspired to start this smoke-free housing movement in San Francisco, getting building owners and managers to pledge to go smoke-free and add themselves to the Smoke-Free Housing Registry.
The participants of BACR’s YPL program are tomorrow’s leaders. We thought the best way to express the concern of our youth leaders would be to share their unedited words directly with you. The letters they wrote for lung cancer awareness month in 2016 are included here.
Join the smoke-free movement by visiting ypl.bacr.org and signing up as a smoke-free housing supporter.
People who smoke in apartment buildings are very inconsiderate. The most disturbing thing is, people don’t know that tobacco smoke travels through open doors, air vents, walls, windows, and even closed doors. People seem to believe that it’s okay to smoke in multi-unit housing, only because they’re smoking inside their own apartment—but really, they are putting everyone else in the building at risk.
Living in one of the biggest cities in the world, we are luckily exposed to different cultures. One downfall that big cities tend to carry is air pollution. Air pollution is one problem that is beginning to affect not just big cities but the whole world. The excessive use of tobacco makes this issue even worse. I understand there are occasions when a smoke break is absolutely necessary for those who have a smoking addiction. But I see no justification in smoking tobacco in multi-unit housing.
One of the main community concerns that comes with drifting smoke in multi-unit housing is that the smoke travels to units that house the elderly, newborns, and those who suffer from respiratory problems. Tobacco smoke puts infants at risk for asthma or even SIDS. It is about time that the city of San Francisco did something to regulate the use of tobacco inside multi-unit housing. One way to help is by talking to your neighbor and friends about it. Push the issue to your landlord to go smoke free!
As a resident of San Francisco, I’ve noticed that the use of cigarettes has become an issue in my community. When I was six years old, I remember watching my aunt and uncle smoke tobacco products, unaware of the consequences. Once they would finish their smoking session, my cousins and I would notice the stench of smoke on their clothes.
Many smokers don’t realize that smoking harms not only the smoker, but those around the person smoking. Parents who smoke can cause health conditions for both their child and themselves, because of secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Many of the health conditions that develop from smoking cigarettes are not reversible and can lead to death.
What concerns me the most is that cigarette companies target youth purposely so they can continue to make a profit as they grow up. As part of Youth Policy Leaders at BACR, I’ve been able to gain more knowledge on the impact of smoking, specifically in San Francisco; not just in adults, but also adolescents through surveys, research, and media. As a Youth Policy Leader our main focus has been on smoke-free housing to limit people from smoking in buildings. Bringing awareness of the effects of cigarette use has been just one way in which I have been able to spread our concerns on the issue, impacting not just adults but youth as well.
More than 1,000 people die each day from smoking cigarettes, meaning that the companies need to find new people to make up for those deaths. A few policies aim to control the inflation, but the percentage of deaths because of this issue is still at large. It’s time to pay attention to the negative effects cigarettes have citywide. We must tackle the problem by creating smoke-free housing in our communities.
So how can we make a difference? Landlords, please adopt a smoke-free policy for your building. If you’ve already done this, let us know and we will advertise your building in our San Francisco smoke-free housing directory.
Tenants, speak up about this issue. When you speak, not only are you protecting yourself, but also your neighbors. Ask a smoker to smoke outside.
Maria Isabel Brenna Milan
Since it’s lung cancer awareness month, we should acknowledge that smoking in multi-unit housing needs to stop. As a San Franciscan living in Visitation Valley, I’ve noticed people smoking more than usual. It’s apparent when I walk down my street; I can smell smoke as I make my way to school. At my friend’s house, I see a cloud floating above the young ones. The effects of smoking may not be visible now, but in a couple years, you’ll notice you can’t do the things that you use to be able to do. Smoking in apartment buildings is a problem that many innocent people in the city face due to inefficient laws.
When I was a kid, my parents smoked in the house, making it hard for me and my siblings to breathe. Because I was exposed to the smoke for so long, I got used to it. I wouldn’t want for my little brother, or anybody’s younger sibling, to breathe in smoke if they choose not to smoke.
Smoking tobacco indoors is bad because it doesn’t only affect you, it affects your family and your community. Smoke can stick to your clothes and your walls, and that’s unhealthy. Once it’s on clothing and walls, it can affect babies and kids who live in the house. So, if you wanna smoke, you should go in a private area where it can’t affect your community—or just stop smoking period. Another reason to not smoke is because if one of your kids sees you smoking, they might think it’s okay for them to smoke—and it’s not. Since tobacco is already a big problem, let’s not make smoking in the house another problem—just go outside.
If we want to decrease this problem, we have to educate people so they see the statistics. We need tenants and property owners to spread the word. Let us move forward and work together to fix this public problem.
So, what can you do about it? Tenants, let’s speak up on the issue and bring it to the frontline. We can talk to our landlords if the issue is present in our building. Landlords, please make your building a smoke-free one. If you are already smoke free, you can let us know and we will advertise your property in our San Francisco Smoke-Free Housing Registry.
Chris Foley specializes in entitlement, financial analysis, and land acquisition. Chris works with some of the largest clients in Northern and Southern California including Tishman Speyer, Lennar Urban, TMG Partners, Morgan Stanley, The Pauls Corporation, CIM Group, and Trumark Urban. Over the past decade, Chris has brokered and consulted on land transactions involving over 10,000 condominium residences and apartments.