Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Internet is your Frenemy

Internet research is a great tool to use in your campaigns, especially when filling out your Midwest Academy Strategy Chart.  Information can be found immediately at the tap of one’s fingertips.  However, there are some issues to consider.  On one hand, search engines can point us to the information that we need, but we may feel confused with irrelevant or questionable information.  How can Internet users improve their searches to find reliable information? What are some strategies to perform effective searches?  Here are some tips that will allow you to search efficiently and to find reliable information online.

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What are the costs of smoking in multiunit housing?

By Guest Blogger – Michael Ong, Assistant Professor in Residence of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Our Estimates of Smoking Related Property Costs has attracted a lot of attention from groups around the country. Our research team was approached by the California Tobacco Control Program to conduct a study to understand this issue better. Many community tobacco control advocates had identified the smoking-related costs faced by owners and managers as a key issue in their work trying to expand smoke-free environments to include multi-unit housing. 

Unfortunately, there are not many researchers who focus on the economics of tobacco control, and fewer who focus on topics related to secondhand smoke exposure.  We knew this topic had never been studied systematically before, but were excited by the prospect of helping the public understand the full implications of smoking in multi-unit housing. We would never have been able to do it without our partners, the California Apartment Association.  They also recognized this as an issue facing their membership and worked closely with us to develop our study. 

Some of the surprising findings we found were that more than one in four multi-unit housing properties experienced smoking-related costs in the past year. We were surprised it was so high, given the current smoking prevalence rate in California. Unfortunately, we found out that less than one-third of multi-unit housing properties are currently completely smoke-free, which suggests many individuals need help to protect themselves from potential secondhand smoke exposure.

For a single multi-unit housing property in the past year, the mean smoking-related cost is nearly $5,000, although the broad range of costs surprised us – the highest reported cost in our survey was $84,000! Based on our analysis, the presence of a complete smoke-free policy could reduce the likelihood of occurrence of smoking-related costs by half, which can generate substantial savings in property operating costs (and potentially reduce the need for rent increases).