There are literally dozens of reasons why health care experts say you shouldn’t smoke, and you probably know most of them, if not all of them. One of the things you may not know is how cigarette (and cigar) smoke can have a negative effect on your home. Many people aren’t aware of the lasting damage smoke does to the home they’ve selected with care and can’t wait to come back to every day.
The good news is that fewer and fewer adults living in the U.S. still smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only about 15% of this group still smoke. Fifty years ago, about 42% of American adults smoked, so as a nation, we’re making our way toward a healthier lifestyle.
However, it’s a tough habit to break, and one that can require hard work and a lot of willpower to achieve. If you’re trying to quit, some of these “heads-up” facts could give you a little extra nudge.
Not only are lit cigarettes a fire hazard that can completely destroy your home if not handled correctly and carefully, it isn’t unusual for a smoker’s home to be dotted with cigarette burns and dark spots caused by ground-in cigarette ash.
Most people don’t realize that the yellowish-brown stains common on the teeth of smokers are also present in their homes. Walls and ceilings can easily discolor, as can light-colored curtains, upholstery and rugs. The changes in color take place slowly, over time, so most often you don’t realize the colors in your home are becoming darker and duller. Once this damage occurs, it’s almost impossible to remove. You could be looking at replacing your fabrics and repainting your walls far more often than you would like.
Damage to Electronics
The nicotine in cigarette smoke doesn’t just stain your surfaces. Nicotine deposits can be gummy and sticky, leaving harmful deposits on the wiring and circuits of your electronics that shorten their lifespans. Many families spend a significant amount on televisions, music equipment, video games and other “plug-ins” that can suffer the ill effects of nicotine damage.
Issues with Air Conditioning
The extra strain put on the filter of your air conditioning unit can greatly decrease the amount of time it will work efficiently. Just one cigarette releases between 7 and 23 milligrams of inhalable particulates, which not only get into your lungs but float into the air to mix with the dust, pet dander, and other irritants. Additional indoor air pollution means your filter is catching more debris, shortening the time between filter changes. If you don’t change the filter often enough, your air conditioner is forced to work harder and cool less efficiently. If the filter clogs completely, you can expect the cooling coils to freeze or the unit to overheat, requiring replacement of the unit or costly repairs. If you smoke in your home, you’ll need to check your filter 2 or 3 times a month instead of once a month, to ensure that it is cleaned or replaced often enough.
The components inside of your air conditioner can also be affected in the same way your electronics are. The sticky residue acts like a blanket and “smothers” the internal workings, causing the unit to malfunction. Air conditioning units also help spread the odor of stale smoke through your home as residue from the smoke processes through the unit and air is released back into your home.
Even with the use of room deodorizers and fabric refreshers, the stubborn odor of smoke clings to everything in your home. In many cases, the only way to remove lingering odors from long-term smoking is with expensive ozone treatments that must be done with machines designed for the job. The homes must be vacated for the treatment, and residents are usually instructed to remain out of the home for several hours afterward, as ozone can damage lung tissue.
Increased Insurance Premiums
Most providers of home insurance ask if anyone in the household is a smoker before underwriting a policy. If you have a household of non-smokers, it isn’t unusual for your family to get a discount on your premiums.
Decreased Resale Value
For all of the reasons above, many prospective home buyers are reluctant to purchase a home where the former occupants were smokers. It may be harder to sell your home when you’re ready to upsize, downsize or relocate, and you may get less for it than you would like.
After reading all this, you may want to consider stepping outside to have a smoke if you’re having trouble quitting. A nicotine addiction is one of the hardest to overcome, but if you can pull it off, your home will thank you!