A Breath of Fresh Air: Engaging with Duarte’s Youth through a PhotoVoice Project

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Reducing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke in Multi-Unit Housing

Clean air is essential for healthy lungs; we all need healthy lungs now more than ever during the coronavirus pandemic. Do not let the air in your home threaten your family’s health. 

In Los Angeles County, over 500,000 nonsmoking adults and children are exposed to secondhand smoke1. When you are exposed to secondhand smoke, it harms your lungs2. It can lead to lung cancer and heart disease in non-smoking adults and lower respiratory infections, asthma, ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome in children. Damaged lungs from exposure to toxic chemicals from secondhand smoke can lead to more severe symptoms of COVID-19.3,4 

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, secondhand smoke exposure was on the rise in California. This is concerning because the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.5

Local, state, and federal efforts are underway to move toward the goal of eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke. For residents of multi-unit housing in LA County, secondhand smoke exposure remains a major public health concern. 

Secondhand smoke migrates from the unit to unit in complexes and travels up 20 feet through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, and shared ventilation systems. 

Allegra Consulting has partnered with Los Angeles County Public Health Department to solve this problem, change tobacco-related social norms, and protect La Puente and Duarte residents living in multi-unit housing. 

To engage with Duarte youth, our outreach team rolled their sleeves up and created a photovoice project referred to as “A Breath of Fresh Air,” which focused on the importance of clean air and reducing secondhand smoke exposure. Our objectives were to engage with youth creatively while sharing their stories in a visual approach. 

We asked community members to share their personal stories on what a breath of fresh air means to them. We wanted to learn from residents their experience and opinion about secondhand smoke through a creative summer photo contest. We received various wonderful submissions, and it wasn’t easy narrowing the winners to the top five selections. Each entry submitted told a story in a compelling and unique way.  The photovoice submission varied from images of blue skies, children playing, walking near the light railway to a wearing a face mask and a large body of water.  In every instance, the entrants shared their stories on healthy, clean indoor air quality. 

Here are snippets from the top three entries: 

1st place winner Karina Serrano_Duarte

“A breath of fresh air means children being safe to play outdoors without the worry of intoxicating fumes. A breath of fresh air means they will be healthy. Most importantly, it means they have a shot at life,” said Karina S., Duarte resident and winner of our photo contest

“Secondhand smoke is an involuntary health risk. Fresh air is a privilege many of us take for granted. Today our air is filled with pollution and toxins that cause harm to our bodies. Secondhand smoke adds to those toxins, putting the person smoking, and those nearby at risk. A breath of fresh air means a better life,” said Adalilian F., La Puente resident 
“I was affected by secondhand smoke when I was a kid, and now, I have asthma. People around me didn’t realize how bad it was to smoke cigarettes around others,” said Maria A., Duarte resident 

Congratulations to all of our winners, and thank you to all of those who sent their submissions.  Please stay connected with us for more updates and contests. 

Be a part of the solution, along with these concerned residents, and join us in implementing smoke-free housing environments. Learn more by visiting www.smokefreecommunity.com 

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