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From the Frying Pan to the Fire With Second-hand Smoke

Action Alameda News received a copy of this letter addressed to Councilmembers Tony Daysog, Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, and Jim Oddie and to the author’s landlord.

My partner and I are new residents to Alameda, from Oakland. We had been thinking about moving for quite a while, but the reason that really got us motivated was that I’m allergic to second hand smoke and could no longer physically handle this smoke and its effect on my health.

Here is some information about how and why second hand smoke is so dangerous:

  • An estimated 42,000 deaths from heart disease in people who are current non-smokers
  • About 7,000 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults
  • Worse asthma and asthma-related problems in up to 1 million asthmatic children
  • Between 150,000 and 300,000 lower respiratory tract (lung and bronchus) infections in children under 18 months of age, with 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations each year

Secondhand smoke exposure causes disease and premature death in children and adults who do not smoke. Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of chemicals known to be toxic or carcinogenic, including formaldehyde, benzene, vinyl chloride, arsenic ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.3

The one condition we needed to be sure about before moving here was that this is a non-smoking house and that people had similar schedules to us (up during the day and sleeping at night). When I asked I was reassured (and we were overjoyed to hear) that nobody smokes here and they were up during the day and did not have a late-night lifestyle.

The rental agreement specifically states that there is no smoking. Apparently, our new landlord was not aware that there actually are many smokers in this building who apparently stay up very late, from late night to the dawn and beyond, almost every night since we moved here 2 weeks ago. Since I am allergic to the smoke, I am kept up all night long as well as whoever is smoking. They are also pacing all night. As soon as I get to sleep, I am jarred awake again a half hour later, over and over again, all night long.

I have arthritis, a condition of autoimmunity called spondylosis that is exacerbated by the 2nd hand smoke and staying up all night, and as well I have a skin rash on my face that is also made much worse by this smoke and my sleeping rhythm being up-ended. My heart is experiencing problems due to the having to breathe the toxic fumes.

Since Alameda has a ban on smoking–a law against smoking:, how would be the best way for us to resolve this problem? Who would be best to talk to? Have others encountered this problem and if so, what was useful for them? Thank you for any information you may have.

–Aimée M. Patten-Bournons, Alameda

1 comment to From the Frying Pan to the Fire With Second-hand Smoke

  • joe smith

    And good luck getting the police to enforce any of the ordinance. They think it’s optional.