Opinion: Secondhand Smoke, Tobacco or Cannabis, Puts Us All at Risk

Once upon a time, I was a junior publicist and had the West Hollywood Travel + Tourism Board as a client. I fell in love with this urban village community that embraced diversity and was chic to boot. Fast forward 20 years, I am proud to share that I’m still a resident and maintain my original affection.

I am an e-commerce beauty entrepreneur, civic leader and act as the development director for a public health nonprofit. I write, however simply as a resident, a daughter who watched her mother die of Stage 4 Lung Cancer – six weeks after diagnosis, and a woman living with asthma. Like many of you, I work from home due to this global pandemic. I live in a multi-unit apartment building and share walls with my neighbors. This density within my living quarters is something I once loved and craved but now I am very clear about its constant adverse effects on my ability to breathe, and that such conditions can kill me. My neighbors’ choices directly affect me now more than ever, and one of those is secondhand smoke inhalation.

I will leave the finer details of scientific study to medical experts, however, I am very aware that secondhand smoke kills. This is a fact with no argument. When my neighbors smoke anything, it directly impacts my air quality — fills my apartment with smoke, and subjects me to enormous health risk.

COVID19 and Smoking

Regarding cigarette usage and COVID, studies show that a person who smokes may be at greater risk for the most dangerous outcomes of COVID-19. Cigarette smoking can suppress the immune system and cause heart and lung diseases.

There is also sufficient evidence on secondhand smoke to infer that components of cigarette smoke impact the immune system (CDC). Other international studies have shown that a history of smoking may be associated with COVID-19 disease progression.

While more research is needed on the impact of smoking, secondhand smoke and coronavirus, it is reasonable to think that any condition that weakens the lungs, such as smoking or vaping, could play a role in making someone more susceptible to complications from any respiratory ailment, including COVID-19.

Cannabis Secondhand Smoke

Simply put, introducing smoke of any type into your lungs compromises your health and even your life. Smoke from marijuana combustion has been shown to contain many of the same toxins, irritants, and carcinogens as tobacco smoke. Smoking marijuana damages the lungs and can cause chronic bronchitis and lead to other respiratory symptoms. It can harm more than just the lungs and respiratory system—it can also affect the immune system and the body’s ability to fight disease, especially for those whose immune systems are already weakened from immunosuppressive drugs or diseases. This includes people like me who have weakened lungs from conditions such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer and yes, COVID19.

More research is needed on the secondhand smoke effects of marijuana, but there is concern it could cause further harmful health effects, especially among vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly in the home.

While there are alternative delivery methods for cannabis, I do not have an alternative air source when one of my neighbors decides to light up anything.

I moved to West Hollywood because it is a community that embraces choice. But when the choices of other people could result in stroke, heart and lung disease, undermining sobriety, or the ability to fight COVID-19 when other options are available, the results can be deadly and their actions irresponsible.

All those who want to avoid the negative consequences of neighbors, visitors and others decision to invade our lungs with their smoking must take action. If you feel anxious or concerned about secondhand smoke and desire to have clean air, safe air in your own home within a multi-unit housing development please call-in, write or join the City Council meeting on Monday. Here is the agenda.

TO PARTICIPATE BY PROVIDING PUBLIC COMMENT BY TELEPHONE

• This option is to provide public comment via phone ONLY.
• Email yquarker@weho.org no later than 4:00 p.m. on August 3rd to be added to the Public Speaker List for the meeting. Include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and indicate that you will be speaking on Item 3.C.
• Dial-in at 5:00 PM to stand in queue (the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.).
o Dial-in Phone Number: (669) 900 – 6833
o Meeting I.D.: 920 8985 8265, then #
• You will be placed on HOLD in the Virtual Meeting Room until it is your turn to
speak. You may be on HOLD for some time. Please remain patient and stay on the
line!
• You will have 2 minutes to speak (about 250 words). If there are a large number of speakers, the City Clerk may limit comments to 1 minute. Please be prepared.

TO PARTICIPATE BY PROVIDING AN E-COMMENT
• Submit an E-Comment using this form as early as Aug. 12, but no later than 4:00 p.m. on Aug. 17. You will be prompted the following questions:

  • Name (optional)
  • City of residence (optional)
  • Address and phone number (optional)
  • Indicate that you will be speaking on (B) an Agenda Item
  • Enter agenda item number “3.B.”
  • Indicate whether you (A) Support or (B) Oppose the recommended item
  • Select “None of the above”
  • You will be prompted to enter your E-Comment. Please plan for 250 words.
  • Submit
  • E-Comments received by 4 p.m. will be forwarded to the City Council and posted on the city’s website as part of the official meeting record.
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Joshua88
Joshua88
26 days ago

Good comments from both sides.

People should be more considerate, but people have a right to smoke.

My take? Fuggedaboudit.

Cathy Ball
Cathy Ball
1 month ago

We have been exposed to second hand smoke from 3 lots of inconsiderate neighbours in the last 6+ years, here in the UK. We live in a terraced house, with gardens of 30 foot long and 15 foot wide. With the first, she and her boyfriend regularly crouched down behind our fence to smoke, which came into our house through windows and doors, we could not see them but when the smell hit it was awful, it seeped everywhere. Result: serious pulmonary embolisms, from which I nearly died. 2 senior chest physicians confirmed the cause, not from a DVT in… Read more »

Hans
Hans
1 month ago

Just wanted to add some information the American News Agency’s are failing to report.
European countries are finding smokers are contracting Covid at a much lower rate than non smokers. Due to cigarettes and smoking not being on the acceptable agenda in this country, these statistics are not being published here.
Europeans, who historically have a higher rate of smoking and smokers , have less Covid cases than the United States.
Just had to enlighten the few that commented that smokers are spreading Covid.

Henry (Hank) Scott
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  Hans

The World Health Organization’s review of a number of scientific studies has led it to conclude “…the available evidence suggests that smoking is associated with increased severity of disease and death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Although likely related to severity, there is no evidence to quantify the risk to smokers of hospitalization with COVID-19 or of infection by SARS-CoV-2 was found in the peer-reviewed literature. Population-based studies are needed to address these questions.” https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/smoking-and-covid-19

Cathy Ball
Cathy Ball
1 month ago
Reply to  Hans

Hans, whether or not your findings are reliable, our nephew is a heavy smoker. He contracted Covid 19 in March and was really bad with it in July! He caught it from his parents who he was helping out with shopping. His father was in hospital for 7 weeks with numerous underlying problems but has recovered. His mother caught it, she was bad for about 6 weeks, she has recovered. Neither parent smokes! The source of the virus? A carer for the father, who never wore a mask nor gloves. So, the smoker had the virus for a lot longer… Read more »

Rob Smitt
Rob Smitt
1 month ago

The city should hire the mentally ill woman who lives on kings road that already harasses smokers and the homeless on a daily basis and then cries wolf when confronted.

I’m offended by the smell of coffee, does that mean we should shut down all coffee shops in weho?

Get a grip people.

Lance
Lance
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob Smitt

“Offended” is not the same as toxic substances in the air that cause Cancer and can lead to death. The ignorance and false equivalence in many of these posts is troubling.

Rob Smitt
Rob Smitt
1 month ago
Reply to  Lance

Ever heard of Prop 65?

Lance
Lance
1 month ago

You’re allowed your own opinion, but not your own facts:

Secondhand smoke kills approximately 45,000 Americans each year. (7,300+ lung cancer deaths a year and 34,000 heart disease deaths.)
Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in adults who do not smoke.
Secondhand smoke exposes smokers and nonsmokers to more than 4,000 toxic substances, several of which are known to cause cancer in humans and animals.
The U.S. Surgeon General warns that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
The CDC estimates secondhand smoke has killed at least 2.5 million non-smokers since 1964. 

George
George
1 month ago
Reply to  Lance

Life is a risk! If someone’s gonna die from 2nd hand cigarette smoke my feeling is they’re not doing much else in life to be healthy. The next time I hear about this second hand smoke nonsense (alternative facts that fit the storyline) I’m gonna ask how much exercise these people get, what they eat, how happy they are etc. People need to stop scapegoating smokers or we’ll just gonna smoke more and blow it in their faces.

Lance
Lance
1 month ago
Reply to  George

Blowing smoke in someone’s face is battery.

But enjoy denying science and smoking at home.
Us non-smokers love yellow teeth, breath that smells like an ashtray and emphysema.

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
1 month ago
Reply to  Lance

Of course, all those figures are for cigarette smoke, not cannabis smoke. Cannabis hasn’t even been shown to cause increases in mortality in first-hand smokers, much less in a totally different apartment.

Cannabis smoking and vaping allows people (including my husband) to reduce or eliminate the use of far more dangerous painkillers. There is no scientific basis for claiming cannabis smoke is serious risk to people in a different unit.

The cannabis ban is a serious intrusion in personal liberty and medical treatment based on speculative and non existent harm.

Lorenzo
Lorenzo
1 month ago

Time and time again stuff to infringe on people’s rights backfires. I expect people who have this issue will only be inhaling more and more smoke.

James Francis
James Francis
1 month ago

I am a severe asthmatic and smoke travels through thin and thick walls, windows stairwells and hallways and most of all vents and heaters attached to walls that carry smoke through other apartments in a building! There has to be a law that the city implement. Otherwise all groups will seek injunctions and dictate to the city based on selfish or individual needs to smoke cigarettes and cigars and vape pens that the county saw was affecting the health of teenagers and children in school exposed to the smoke. We cannot be compelled to smell and breathe toxic smoke or… Read more »

JP
JP
1 month ago

So rights only matter when its fits your agenda…got it!

Erik
Erik
1 month ago

Everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that this proposal would ban smoking anything in an apartment building. That would effectively repeal the recreational and medical legalization of marijuana for everyone who’s not rich enough to own a private detached home in weho. That’s a lot of people.

Jared Thrace
Jared Thrace
1 month ago

Seriously do people not have anything better to do then complain?

Lavery
Lavery
1 month ago

Yet another Karen issue – people trying to control others and acting so dramatic like their lives are at stake. People have the right to smoke. Just like they have the right to watch TV, eat, drink etc.

Tris
Tris
1 month ago

There’s no way to enforce these crazy rules the writer wants implemented. The rules / article will make people want to smoke even more. I don’t even smoke but this article makes me want to buy a pack. People should stop trying to control other people and live on a deserted island if they’re so sensitive.

Karen O'Keefe
Karen O'Keefe
1 month ago
Reply to  Tris

In addition to code enforcement, it seems to allow random people to haul folks into small claims court — alleging they smoke tobacco or cannabis — and collect a MINIMUM of $100 for a first occurrence, $200 for a 2nd, and $500 for a third. There appears to be no requirement that the person be harmed in any way, or even to have smelled the smoke/cannabis. It seems to allow a random person with a drone to haul someone into court if they see the person smoking a bong, vaporizing, etc. (Same with if they see photos on Instagram or Facebook… Read more »