Mil Gracias for Not Smoking Indoors!

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By choosing to not smoke indoors, a smoker deserves a thank-you for protecting their family, friends, and neighbors from secondhand smoke.

That’s why the new “Mil Gracias (A Thousands Thanks) for Not Smoking Indoors!” campaign from UT Health San Antonio is inviting people share gratitude for smokers who respect others’ air during the COVID-19 respiratory pandemic:

  1. Email a “thank you” to smokers who protect others by not smoking indoors.
  2. Sign a letter acknowledging the health dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.
  3. Share the need to reduce secondhand smoke in multifamily dwellings.

The Mil Gracias campaign features English and Spanish flyers with key messages to help people reduce their risk for smoking-related diseases and COVID-19.

“Smokers have the power to slow the spread of disease and COVID-19 by not smoking indoors, thus protecting people from secondhand smoke dangers and the possibility of coronavirus airborne transmission,” said Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, health disparities researcher and director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. “Smokers who do not smoke indoors deserve our thanks.”

Reason #1 to Thank a Smoker for Not Smoking Indoors: Secondhand Smoke Dangers

By volunteering to not smoke indoors, you can reduce dangerous secondhand smoke.

We know that secondhand smoke has killed millions of people. It contains over 7,000 chemicals and is linked to certain cancers, heart disease, stroke, and more.

“There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Dr. Mandie Svatek, associate professor of pediatrics in the Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. “Effects of secondhand smoke also include more severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and ear infections.”

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Reason #2 to Thank a Smoker for Not Smoking Indoors: COVID-19 Issues

By volunteering to not smoke indoors, you can reduce susceptibility and severity of COVID-19.

Coronavirus mask latina walking talking phone covid-19 avoiding exposure to smoking indoorsPeople who smoke are at greater risk for severe COVID-19.  People who vape may be 5-7 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Secondhand smoke is a potent airway irritant. Lungs can only take so much. If a smoker has COVID-19 and you smell their exhalations, you could be at risk for contracting COVID-19 from them.

“This makes reducing smoking and secondhand smoke a key opportunity for intervention in the effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve in San Antonio and beyond,” Svatek said.

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Reason #3 to Thank a Smoker for Not Smoking Indoors: Apartment or Condo Renters

By volunteering to not smoke indoors, you can protect your neighbors.

In apartments and condos, neighbors share air with everyone in the building. Secondhand smoke can travel via elevators, stairwells, ventilation shafts, and wall openings, such as electrical outlets.

Much of San Antonio─restaurants, bars, offices, and public housing─is already smoke-free.

However, there is no smoke-free policy that prevents smoking in privately owned apartments, condominiums, and other multifamily dwellings. Residents in these buildings have no choice about breathing secondhand smoke if their neighbor smokes.

“There is no pee-free zone in a swimming pool, and there is no smoke-free apartment or condominium in a building that allows smoking,” said Dr. Claudia Miller, professor emeritus at UT Health San Antonio and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program. “When people sign papers to rent or purchase an apartment or condominium, they should be notified in writing whether smoking is allowed in the building. You don’t want to learn later that your neighbors smoke indoors.”

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Mil Gracias (A Thousand Thanks) Again!

Stopping smoking is the best way to avoid serious health complications.

If you’re ready to stop, get help from UT Health San Antonio’s free Quitxt Program, an English or Spanish smartphone service that sends text or Facebook Messenger messages to help South Texans quit.

If you’re not ready, you still have power to protect others’ health by not smoking indoors.

“By voluntarily not smoking indoors, you deserve our congratulations,” Ramirez said. “You are actively creating a healthier environment for your family, friends, and neighbors. ¡Mil gracias!

Learn more about the Mil Gracias for Not Smoking Indoors campaign!

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The “Mil Gracias for Not Smoking Indoors” campaign is led by UT Health San Antonio thanks to a collaboration of health experts: Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of Salud America! and chair of the Department of Population Health Sciences in the Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio; Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist and professor emeritus at UT Health San Antonio; Dr. Mandie Svatek, associate professor of pediatrics in the Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. Learn more!

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