If you smoke, you still have the power to save lives.
By voluntarily choosing to not smoke indoors, you deserve a thank-you for protecting your 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 sharing information about secondhand smoke, reducing COVID-19, and helping people share gratitude for smokers who respect others’ air.
The campaign is led by a group of local health experts: Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, health disparities researcher and director of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio; Dr. Claudia Miller, a chemical intolerance researcher at UT Health San Antonio; Dr. Mandie Svatek, a pediatrician at UT Health San Antonio, and Dr. Bryan Bayles, a public health expert at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
“We want to get thousands of people to thank smokers who choose to not smoke indoors. When smokers taking it outside and away from people, it reduces exposure to the known dangers of secondhand smoke and the potential airborne transmission of COVID-19,” Ramirez said.
Reason #1 to Thank a Smoker for Not Smoking Indoors: Secondhand Smoke Dangers
By volunteering to not smoking indoors, you have the power to reduce dangerous secondhand smoke.
We know that secondhand smoke has killed millions of people. It contains over 7,000 chemicals and is linked to cancer, heart disease, asthma, and other respiratory infections.
“There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Svatek, associate professor of pediatrics in the Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.
Reason #2 to Thank a Smoker for Not Smoking Indoors: COVID-19 Issues
By volunteering to not smoking indoors, you have the power to potentially slow the spread of COVID-19.
Although not definitive, a rising wave of scientists, epidemiologists, clinicians, and others believe that the airborne spread of COVID-19─via small tiny droplets that can remain airborne long enough to travel significantly farther than the six-foot separation we’ve been told to observe─is “both real and dangerous,” according to the Scientific American.
“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,” said Bayles, research assistant professor of public health at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
Reason #3 to Thank a Smoker for Not Smoking Indoors: Apartment or Condo Renters
By volunteering to not smoking indoors, you have the power to protect your neighbors.
In apartments and condos, neighbors share air with everyone in the building. Secondhand smoke can travel via elevator shafts, stairwells, HVAC systems, and any wall openings, such as electrical outlets.
This is why much of San Antonio─restaurants, bars, offices, and public housing─is already smoke-free.
But there is no smoke-free policy that prevents people from smoking in privately owned apartments, condominiums, and other multifamily dwellings. Their neighbors have no choice about secondhand smoke exposure.
“There is no pee-free zone in a swimming pool; there is no smoke-free apartment in a building that allows smoking,” said Miller, professor emeritus and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program. “Every respiratory problem is made worse by secondhand smoke, including COPD, asthma, and, indirectly, COVID-19 susceptibility and severity. Indoor (secondhand) smoking contributes to asthma and COPD, which are known predisposing factors for COVID-19.”
Mil Gracias (A Thousand Thanks) Again!
Quitting smoking is the best way to avoid serious health complications.
If you’re ready to quit, get help from UT Health San Antonio’s free Quitxt Program, an English or Spanish service for your smartphone that sends text or Facebook Messenger messages with tailored support to help South Texans quit smoking.
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!
The “A Million Thanks for Not Smoking Indoors” campaign is led by UT Health San Antonio thanks to a collaboration of several 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, professor emeritus and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio; Dr. Mandie Svatek, associate professor of pediatrics in the Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio; and Dr. Bryan Bayles, research assistant professor of public health at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Learn more here.