Written by Michelle Chen
We all need clean air to live healthy lives. This includes the air inside your home, not just what you breathe in outside. To protect your and your family’s health, don’t smoke at home. Secondhand smoke, which comes from cigarettes and the air smokers breathe out, is toxic. It has thousands of deadly chemicals, including ones that cause cancer. Non-smokers who live with secondhand smoke are more likely to get sick or die from serious illness such as cancer and heart disease. Secondhand smoke is especially bad for children. At the Health Center, we see kids with family members who smoke that come in with asthma and ear infections.
Secondhand smoke is a special problem in big cities like New York, where many people live in apartments. Much of the air inside a building is shared. Smoke in one unit can move through a whole building and into other units, even if they are far apart. Smoke can get trapped almost everywhere, including walls, floors, doors, and furniture. It can also stay on your clothes and hair. No fan, room spray, or open window can get rid of lingering smoke. Just because you can’t see it or smell it doesn’t mean it’s not there!
Make your whole home smoke-free (not just a few rooms). Moving to another room or opening a window does NOT protect your loved ones from the smoke. Don’t just stop at your home – make your car smoke-free, too. Here are some tips:
- Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, and matches.
- Tell your friends and family that you don’t allow smoking in your home.
- Have gum or fruit as an alternative to smoking.
- Be polite but firm. If people must smoke, insist that they do it outside.
We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our posts on tips and why you should quit.
At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:
- Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
Internal Medicine (Manhattan)
You can also get free patches and help from:
- Asian Americans for Equality
(212) 979-8988 (Chinese)
- Asian Smokers’ Quitline
- NY State Smokers’ Quitline
This post is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.
Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.