Objectives: Once the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in New York City (NYC), stay-at-home orders led to more time spent indoors, potentially increasing exposure to secondhand marijuana and tobacco smoke via incursions from common areas or neighbors. The objective of this study was to characterize housing-based disparities in marijuana and tobacco incursions in NYC housing during the pandemic. Design: We surveyed a random sample of families from May to July 2020 and collected sociodemographic data, housing characteristics, and the presence, frequency, and pandemic-related change in incursions. Setting: Five pediatric practices affiliated with a large NYC health care system. Participants: In total, 230 caregivers of children attending the practices. Main Outcome Measures: Prevalence and change in tobacco and marijuana smoke incursions. Results: Tobacco and marijuana smoke incursions were reported by 22.9% and 30.7%, respectively. Twenty-two percent of families received financial housing support (public housing, Section-8). Compared with families in private housing, families with financial housing support had 3.8 times the odds of tobacco incursions (95% CI, 1.4-10.1) and 3.7 times the odds of worsening incursions during pandemic (95% CI, 1.1-12.5). Families with financially supported housing had 6.9 times the odds of marijuana incursions (95% CI, 2.4-19.5) and 5 times the odds of worsening incursions during pandemic (95% CI, 1.9-12.8). Children in financially supported housing spent more time inside the home during pandemic (median 24 hours vs 21.6 hours, P =.02) and were more likely to have asthma (37% vs 12.9%, P =.001) than children in private housing. Conclusions: Incursions were higher among families with financially supported housing. Better enforcement of existing regulations (eg, Smoke-Free Public Housing Rule) and implementation of additional policies to limit secondhand tobacco and marijuana exposure in children are needed. Such actions should prioritize equitable access to cessation and mental health services and consider structural systems leading to poverty and health disparities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-257
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2022


  • environmental health disparities
  • marijuana incursions
  • public housing
  • tobacco incursions


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