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Health New Researches

Almost half of all Israeli households Have Second Hand Smoke Exposure from Neighbors’ Homes

Smoking

A new study from the School of Public Health at the Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University estimates that almost half the Israeli population suffers from second-hand smoke (SHS) penetrating their homes, mostly due to smoking neighbors. The study also found that only 1 in 4 families who suffer from smoke infiltrating their homes complain about it to the smoking neighbor, homeowner, or building committee.

In Israel today the law prohibits smoking at a distance of 10 meters from public places like hospitals and schools, but completely ignores SHS from smoking in balconies or next to windows.

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According to the CDC, exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) from burning tobacco products causes disease and premature death among people who do not smoke. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke; even brief exposure can cause immediate harm. Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke can cause sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections, ear infections, and asthma attacks in infants and children, and coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer in adult nonsmokers, says the CDC.

The High Court of Justice is now reviewing an appeal against several government ministries for not acting to prevent harmful SHS caused by neighbors who smoke in balconies, houses, yards, or next to windows. According to the researchers, this study is the first in scientific literature to provide evidence about the extent of the problem in Israel, and about the fear of damage to health resulting from SHS infiltration from neighbors’ apartments or balconies.

The study was led by Prof. Leah Rosen from the School of Public Health at TAU’s Faculty of Medicine, in collaboration with graduate student Noa Theitler from the School of Public Health, Dr. Maya Peled Raz from the University of Haifa, Dr. Michal Bitan from the Academic College of Management, and Dr. Vaughan Rees from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The paper was published in the Israel Journal of Health Policy Research, which is a leading health policy research journal funded by the Israel National Institute for Health Policy Research.

The new study completes the picture, revealing a widespread phenomenon: almost 50% of Israeli families suffer from passive smoking due to smoke infiltrating their homes, especially from their neighbors. Most, however, prefer to ‘live with’ the hazard rather than complain to the neighbors.

The study included nearly 300 participants from across the country. Many reported that they were greatly disturbed by the smoke and feared for their health but preferred not to complain – in order to avoid confrontation and maintain good neighborly relations. Some even reported that they had had to move due to smoke coming in incessantly from their neighbors.

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