Secondhand Smoke Poses Hazards To Apartment Residents

Monday, October 18, 2010

BUFFALO, NY — The most effective way to ensure that apartment residents are not exposed to secondhand smoke is to adopt smoke-free building policies, according to a study conducted by scientists at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and published online ahead of print in the journal, Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

“Few studies have quantitatively assessed secondhand smoke exposure in apartments,” said senior investigator Andrew Hyland, PhD, Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park. “This study documents that secondhand smoke can transfer from apartments where smoking is permitted to hallways and other apartments where smoking is not permitted.”

Researchers believe this study to be the first to assess real-time secondhand smoke transfer between smoke-permitted and smoke-free apartments within the same building. Air quality data were obtained from 30 apartments within 11 different buildings. The median levels of particulate matter, an indicator of secondhand smoke levels, were the greatest between 4 pm and midnight, which was the same period during which the most cigarettes were smoked. The extent of the secondhand smoke transfer was dependent on many factors, including ventilation and distance between apartments.

Approximately 75% of the U.S. population is covered by state and/or local laws that prohibit smoking inside workplaces, bars or restaurants. However, there are relatively few restrictions on private living areas such as apartment buildings, where approximately 80 million Americans reside. Since Americans spend more than two-thirds of their time in their homes, private living areas are a major source of secondhand smoke exposure for many individuals. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, secondhand smoke accounts for an estimated 50,000 deaths among adult nonsmokers each year.

Lead investigator Brian King, PhD, Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park, adds, “This study suggests that individuals who live in apartment buildings are particularly susceptible to secondhand smoke exposure in their homes. Since many factors can impact the amount of secondhand smoke transfer between apartments, smoke-free building polices are the most effective way to protect apartment residents and their visitors from exposure.”

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition is offering assistance to property owners and managers in adopting smoke-free rental properties. Landlords may receive up to $500 in a marketing rebate by advertising their apartment as smoke-free. For more information, call 716-845-1615 or visit

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, established in 1993 and located at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, Buffalo, NY, is part of the New York State Tobacco Control Program. The Coalition is dedicated to reducing the risk of cancer, heart, lung and other tobacco-related diseases in Erie and Niagara counties by decreasing tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. Today, more than 30 health and service agencies are members of the Coalition.

The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Roswell Park,founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit Roswell Park’s website at, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email

Media Contact: 

Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager