The Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) held a press conference Friday afternoon to launch the Project CASA (Creating Access to Smoke-Free Apartments) Campaign in San Mateo County.
At the Coastside Fire Protection District Headquarters in Half Moon Bay, flanked by 30 firemen and community members supporting their efforts, the YLI youth advocates asked elected officials to take a stand.
The Mayor of Half Moon Bay, Allan Alifano, and California State Assemblymember Rich Gordon rose to the challenge.
The YLI youth surveyed local apartment residents and found that 85 percent supported making their building non-smoking, according to a YLI press release.
“I was shocked that 95 percent of residents said that second-hand smoke bothered them, yet only 1 percent had ever complained to management”, shared Gabrielle Pyle, a 17-year-old YLI youth advocate.
Pyle offered a solution, “If Half Moon Bay introduces a multi-unit housing ordinance, we can lead the way for other neighboring cities. We can make history.”
Children who are residents of Mainstreet Housing, cheered when Alifano said, “I’m more than willing to support this campaign, and I commit to introducing this ordinance with our city council.”
Gordon echoed his support, “It’s very clear that young people in our communities are going to make sure that the cities in this region get these ordinances adopted.”
He co-authored SB 332 with Senator Padilla, which clarifies that it's completely legal for cities to adopt smoke-free housing ordinances. This timely new law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.
“Every year almost 1,000 people are killed in smoking related residential fires and 9,000 of these fires happen each year”, said Mike Alifano, vice president of The Coastside Fire Protection District Board of Directors.
Sarah Lambert, executive director of Lesley Senior Communities, agreed on the urgency of this campaign.
“We had a major fire that was started by one of the residents who fell asleep while smoking a cigarette, and we lost 29 apartment units as a result,” she said.
YLI youth advocates including 16-year-old Cecilia Peñaloza, a Mainstreet Housing resident, plan to meet with Half Moon Bay City Council and city staff to ensure policy passage in the near future.
“I have had the opportunity over several years to work with The Youth Leadership Institute,” said Gordon. “Do not underestimate the young people who are part of this movement. They are an incredibly powerful force. They do their research, know the facts, study the issues and they are more than prepared to do the advocacy necessary to create social change.”
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