Secondhand smoke exposure among Hispanics/Latinos living in multiunit housing: exploring barriers to new policies

Am J Health Promot. 2011 May-Jun;25(5 Suppl):S82-90. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.100628-QUAL-219.


Purpose: Despite a high prevalence of voluntary home smoking bans and laws protecting Californians from exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS) in the workplace, many Hispanic/Latino (H/L) residents of multiunit housing (MUH) are potentially exposed to SHS from neighboring apartments. An advocacy/policy intervention was implemented to reduce tobacco-related health disparities by encouraging H/L living in MUH to implement voluntary policies that reduce exposure to SHS. This article presents findings from qualitative and quantitative data collected during development of the intervention, as well as preliminary results of the intervention.

Design, setting, and subjects: MUH residents in Southern California participated in focus groups (n = 48), door-to-door surveys (n = 142), and a telephone survey (n = 409).

Measures: Exposure to SHS, attitudes toward SHS, and attitudes toward policies restricting SHS in MUH were assessed.

Results: H/L MUH residents reported high levels of exposure to SHS and little ability to protect themselves and their families from SHS. Respondents expressed positive attitudes toward adopting antismoking policies in MUH, but they also feared retaliation by smokers. The cultural values of familismo, respeto, simpatía, and personalismo influenced their motivation to protect their families from SHS as well as their reluctance to ask their neighbors to refrain from smoking. Nonsmokers were more likely to favor complete indoor and outdoor smoking bans in MUH, whereas smokers were more likely to favor separate smoking areas. The Regale Salud advocacy/policy intervention, implemented to reduce SHS exposure, prompted the passage of seven voluntary policies in apartment complexes in Southern California to prevent smoking in MUH.

Conclusions: H/L in California support voluntary policies, local ordinances, and state laws that prevent exposure to SHS in MUH, especially those that are consistent with H/L cultural values and norms for interpersonal communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health* / ethnology
  • California
  • Environmental Exposure / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Environmental Exposure / prevention & control
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Policy
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data*
  • Housing / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Smoking / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution