This list was condensed from an address given by Dr. Mark Travers, Assistant Professor of Oncology of Health Behavior and the Director of Air Pollution Exposure Research Lab at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. With 13+ years of experience in evaluating the effectiveness of smoke-free air policies worldwide, he delivered this perspective to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) Board before they voted on a smoke-free policy for Buffalo’s public housing.
- Tobacco smoke pollution is a complex mixture of well over 4,000 compounds, at least 69 of which cause cancers and more than 250 are known toxins.
- Tobacco smoke pollution is pervasive in the environment and contains gases. solids, liquid particles and all sorts of volatile compounds in between.
- Tobacco smoke pollution travels its way from one end of a room to another, from one apartment to its neighbor, settling on everything from our own clothing to floors, windows, cabinets, carpets and walls, remaining and re-emitted into the air later.
- An unfortunate baby or toddler, who lives on floor and carpet surfaces, touching and ingesting this settled tobacco pollution, will be sick more often as he or she grows up, more likely to get bronchitis and pneumonia, have more ear infections and will be more likely to smoke in the future.
- According to tobacco smoke pollution studies conducted in subsidized apartment buildings in Western New York, Travers and his colleagues found that nonsmokers in SMOKE-PERMITTED buildings had 3 times higher levels of particulate air pollution in their homes compared to nonsmokers living in SMOKE-FREE buildings. They also had 5 times higher levels of nicotine stuck on surfaces in their homes.
- The constant pollution levels from the amount of indoor smoking found in Travers’ research are virtually never found in outdoor settings, unless a person is close to a fire.
- No coat of paint will cover the toxic legacy of pollution that a smoking tenant leaves behind.
Given these facts, the BMHA board members voted to ban smoking in all their buildings. We applaud them for creating a safer, smoke-free living environment for this generation and the next.