The Non Smokers' Movement of Australia  
Protecting the rights of the Non-smoking majority from tobacco smoke
and from the tobacco industry's propaganda.

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Clean Air Update

Issue 59, September-October 2010

Smoke Seepage within Multi-Unit Housing

We now have a name for this dangerous and potentially deadly phenomenon.

Non-Smokers' Movement has been aware of it for years and we have deplored the apathy and ignorance which has forced people to live in unhealthy circumstances. Families must gain protection from smoke seepage. Smoke seepage occurs between homes in multi-unit housing (home-units, flats, semi-detached dwellings, etc.).

As previously stated, nobody should be forced to barricade their families indoors in order to protect their families from the poisons in tobacco smoke. Barricading simply does not work - the smoke travels "from its point of generation in a building to all other areas of the building. It has been shown to move through light fixtures, through ceiling crawl spaces, and into and out of doorways." 1993, California Chief of Occupational Health and Safety.

Several members and friends of NSMA have led, and continue to lead very stressful existences, trying to cope with exposure to smoke seepage in their own homes. They have become physically ill, and mentally stressed, especially as their own neighbours, due to addiction, initiate the damage and distress in their own homes. People may have the right to use a legally available substance, but where the use of that substance directly and dangerously affects others, then they should be requested/advised/told/forced to find an alternative.

We call on all Public Housing Departments, our biggest Landlords, to protect our most vulnerable families by preventing smoke seepage in multi-unit buildings. Smokers should be directed to use only designated outdoor smoking spaces, well-distanced from building openings. Smokers can use an alternative method of nicotine delivery indoors, e.g. nicotine replacement therapies.

These alternative methods don't immediately affect everybody nearby in the way that tobacco smoking indoors and on balconies does. For those who advocate separate Smoking-Only buildings and Smoke-free buildings, think of the families who live in the smoking-only buildings. The head of household may be the smoker, but all others would be forced to accept life in a building where smokers are concentrated, and their lives would deteriorate even more.

Also, consider the plight of families who finally decide to quit smoking, but who would be forced to endure life in smoke-filled buildings until a scarce/precious smokefree apartment was vacated. Out argument is supported by a recent article in the New England Journal of Public Medicine, Regulation of Smoking in Public Housing by Jonathan P. Winickoff, M.D., M.P.H., Mark Gottlieb, J.D., and Michelle M. Mello, J.D., Ph.D. saying, although...

"laws mandating smoke-free indoor air are widespread, private homes have long been considered spaces beyond the legitimate reach of regulation." BUT "Tobacco-smoke exposure in public housing is particularly troubling because it afflicts disadvantaged and vulnerable populations". AND IN CONCLUSION That there may be ethical and practical concerns but that the harm exists, and is recognised, and these residents have no other places to go nor means to fight the problem in the courts.

At NSMA, we say that they do, however, have the right to expect the same support which has been available in the past, in the long battle for smokefree public transport, smokefree public places, smokefree workplaces, smokefree vehicles and even smokefree outdoors. One major proviso is that the battle does not take as long.

Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Priorities:

  • 1. Smokefree indoors (No Exemptions) and Smokefree Cars.
  • 2. Children not allowed where smoking is allowed -two reasons: to avoid physical exposure and to de-normalise smoking in their eyes.
  • 3. Heavy prosecution for marketing and supply to minors (retailers, family, friends).
  • 4. Smoke-free outdoors, especially in crowded outdoor areas, with provision of Designated Outdoor Smoking Areas/spaces well-distanced from building openings and thoroughfares and children's areas.

We continue to fight for everybody's basic right to clean air, free from the poisons in tobacco smoke.

Our activities over the past year have included:

Personal and some financial support for individuals fighting for their rights to smokefree, jobs (Corrective Services), businesses, and multi-unit homes.

Submissions to West Australian, Victorian and Tasmanian Government Reviews
Requests to NSW and Queensland Governments, re Public Housing.
Submissions to Local Council Smokefree Outdoors Reviews, in Bega Valley, Wagga Wagga, Willoughby, Warringah, Randwick, Wollongong and Sydney City.
Protests at Sydney Royal Easter Show and Royal North Shore Hospital Support for announced smokefree Carols in the Domain, Sydney.

Attendance and Participation at Conferences:

Oceania Tobacco Control Conference Darwin 2009.
Asia Pacific Conference on Tobacco or Health (APACT), Sydney, 2010.
National Summit on Smoking in Prisons, Canberra, 2010.
National Assembly of Local Government Authorities, Canberra, 2010.
Ongoing correspondence to newspapers and magazines, supporting Tobacco-out-of-sight, Plain Packaging, Smokefree alfresco dining, promoting designated outdoor smoking Spaces, and protesting Liberal Party's financial support from Big Tobacco.

Regarding Further Regulation/Prohibition of Tobacco

Tobacco use in Australia is regulated to a certain extent, with sales to minors being illegal, restrictions on its use in many indoor and some outdoor places. However, as mentioned previously, there remain about 3 million smokers in Australia.

Some thoughts on reducing/regulating its use/prohibiting its use even further:

  • 1. The majority of smokers have expressed a wish to quit or have already attempted to quit. They don't want to smoke. Many of them want tobacco to be made illegal so they have even more incentive to quit, and so that the Government won't get any more money from them.
  • 2. Use of tobacco immediately adversely affects the health of others nearby.
  • 3. The use of tobacco is easily detectable, because of its distinctive smell.
  • 4. There are several economically viable alternative methods of delivery of nicotine, which don't immediately affect people nearby.
  • 5. Recent research shows that "cold turkey" works and that smokers can achieve tobacco-free lives without necessarily waiting for counselling and/or depending on other drugs.
  • 6. Blackmarkets and smuggling already occur - strong enforcement would be essential, especially in supply to minors.
  • 7. If tobacco were prohibited, the bosses and their spinmerchants would be out of jobs.
  • 8. Very important: Tobacco kills more Australians than any other single product.
  • 9. Most Important: By banning tobacco use except in highly regulated circumstances (e.g. licensed users, in strictly designated spaces only), our governments would be protecting every body's basic right to clean air, free from the poisons in tobacco smoke.

    The Non-Smokers' Movement of Australia Inc, Box K860, Haymarket NSW 1240.  
This page was last updated on Thursday 20th October, 2011.
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