Local organization implements pledge program to keep tobacco smoke out of Maine homes
Allowing smoking in your home is dangerous and expensive. That's why Healthy Maine Partnerships in Penobscot and Piscataquis County are encouraging everyone to pledge to keep their home smoke-free.
Local Healthy Maine Partnerships are participating members of the state-wide Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine. The Coalition, with funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is holding a Smoke-Free Homes campaign urging people to protect themselves and others from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. By visiting www.smokefreeforme.org or calling (207) 874-8774 and pledging to keep your home smoke-free, residents will receive a free EPA Smoke-Free Homes Pledge Thank You kit, complete with certificate, coasters, magnets, decals, and tips on how to stay smoke-free.
“Maine is a state known for its comprehensive laws protecting citizens from secondhand smoke exposure. Mainers are free to breathe clean air in almost all workplaces and public places including restaurants and bars. However, many are still at risk in the place they spend 70% of their time—the home,” states Bonnie Irwin, District Tobacco Coordinator for the Healthy Maine Partnerships in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, speaking from her office at the City of Bangor's Health and Community Services Department. “The purpose of this program is to motivate citizens to take that first voluntary step towards change.”
“Secondhand smoke is especially dangerous to children, the elderly, and those with respiratory disorders. Children in homes where they are exposed to secondhand smoke are at increased risk of developing ear infections, respiratory track infections, and are 44% more likely to suffer from asthma,” adds Irwin. “Pledging to keep smoke out of your home can significantly decrease these risks.”
In addition to the EPA's Smoke-Free Homes Pledge program, the Smoke-Free Housing Coalition of Maine provides information to landlords and tenants on the benefits of adopting written smoke-free policies in multi-unit buildings. Recent Maine surveys have shown that nearly 78% of tenants want to live in a smoke-free home, while less than 40% of landlords have a written smoke-free policy.
“The Smoke-Free Homes Pledge program was a logical project to implement to further our mission that no Maine resident, regardless of their living situation, is involuntarily exposed to secondhand smoke,” says Irwin. “By taking the pledge, tenants and others are empowering themselves to say, 'no one in my home will be subjected to secondhand smoke.'”
“Even if you aren't ready to quit, pledging to keep your home smoke-free is a great step towards protecting your family from the deadly toxins in tobacco smoke.”
“This pledge program does not require people to quit smoking. Instead, it encourages people to keep secondhand smoke away from their family or housemates by taking smoking outdoors and away from others. Of course, for those interested in quitting, additional information is available by contacting local Healthy Maine Partnerships or by visiting online at www.healthymainepartnerships.org. Healthy Maine Partnerships can provide additional assistance on how to go about kicking the habit,” said Irwin of her efforts, which support the smoking cessation programs of four area Partnerships. “We want to help ensure success for all individuals and families”.
Everyday in Maine, one non-smoker dies from exposure from secondhand smoke.
Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, and 40 carcinogens. The Surgeon General stated in a 2006 that there is “no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.”
Secondhand smoke exposure is responsible for approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 22,700-69,600 heart disease deaths among nonsmokers in the United States each year.
Secondhand smoke is a known cause of other pediatric ailments such as ear infections, respiratory tract infections, and SIDs.
The Smoke-Free Housing Coalition is a 2007/2008 recipient of the U.S. EPA Region I-Healthy Communities Grant Program.
The Smoke-Free Housing Coalition is a group of over 50 public health advocates, tenants, landlords, property managers, environmental health professionals and others, who have been working with public and private property managers and landlords to develop smoke-free policies since 2004.
The Smoke-Free Housing Coalition's website: www.smokefreeforme.org contains information for both tenants and landlords. The website also includes a Smoke-Free Housing registry, created so that prospective tenants could have a convenient database to search for smoke-free housing options, and as a way for landlords to advertise their units without cost. The free, online registry currently holds over 2,020 smoke-free units from fifteen different counties throughout the state. For more information, to register your units or to search smoke-free units, visit www.smokefreeforme.org and click on the smoke-free housing registry icon.
To take the Smoke-Free Homes Pledge, please visit www.smokefreeforme.org/pledge/.
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