Billboard Campaign Aims to Protect Imperial Families from Secondhand Smoke, Urges City Leaders to Act

Most Imperial residents find secondhand smoke problematic and support outdoor smoke-free policies

June 23, 2022

Imperial, Calif. – June 23, 2022 – The majority of Imperial residents know that secondhand smoke is harmful and support smoke-free policies that protect their families, friends and neighbors. A new billboard campaign aims to prompt city leaders into action with a strong message: Secondhand smoke doesn’t belong here.

“Secondhand smoke doesn’t belong in Imperial’s outdoor public spaces, including bus stops, doorways, entryways, markets or outdoor events where our families get together. All of us deserve to breathe clean, smoke-free air and need to be protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke. We hope our City Council will heed our call,” said Heineken Rodriguez, Imperial resident and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteer.

According to a survey from ACS CAN’s Vidas Importantes Vecindarios Elevados (VIVE) project, the vast majority (96%) of Imperial residents surveyed say that secondhand smoke is “very harmful or “harmful.” Most respondents (87%) have been bothered by secondhand smoke, including from e-cigarettes. Over three-quarters of respondents (77%) support laws that limit smoking in public outdoor areas.

“It is clear the Imperial community understands that even outdoors they and their loved ones can be exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke, which can cause serious diseases such as lung cancer and stroke. Secondhand smoke is also a common trigger for asthma,” said Melissa Curiel, community engagement manager for VIVE.

Children in the Imperial Valley have one of California’s highest rates of asthma hospitalization and emergency room visits. They come largely from Latino and limited-income communities that face disproportional health disparities.

In California, 46% of Latinos live in multi-unit housing, where secondhand smoke can travel through ventilation systems, cracks in walls, electrical lines, floors and plumbing.

“Opening the windows and using fans does not remove the carcinogens from secondhand smoke that seeps into your home. Comprehensive smoke-free policies do protect families from secondhand smoke and, in turn, can help children have fewer asthma episodes,” said Curiel. “Smoke-free policies also help denormalize smoking, which reduces the number of people – especially youth – who start smoking and supports those who are trying to quit.”

The billboard is located near the intersection of Highway 86 and Aten Rd.

To join VIVE’s efforts to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure in the Imperial Valley visit Find more information about the campaign at

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Media Contacts

Priscilla Cabral-Perez
Regional Multicultural Media Advocacy Associate Director