Proposal to Make Public Housing Smokefree Celebrated at White House Summit
(January 6, 2016) - WASHINGTON, D.C.
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Today, the American Lung Association participated in a White House Summit on a newly proposed smokefree rule to protect the health and safety of residents in public housing properties. Hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), this event featured Secretary Julián Castro, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and served as an opportunity for public housing authorities, health-related groups led by the American Lung Association, and federal partners to discuss common concerns, share best practices and exchange information.
The proposed rule to require Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to implement smokefree policies will both protect resident health and safety, and reduce maintenance costs and fire risk. PHAs provide affordable housing to low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities, and the proposed rule would prohibit smoking in all indoor areas of PHA properties—including all individual units—as well as within 25 feet of buildings.
"This rule would help eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in public housing and create a healthier, cleaner and safer living environment for all residents," said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "Everyone—regardless of their financial situation—deserves to breathe smokefree air where they live."
HUD's proposed rule is urgently needed because the U.S. Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Research demonstrates that secondhand smoke does not stay in the unit of a person who smokes; rather it can drift throughout the building to expose neighbors. More than 600 of the 3,100 PHAs have implemented smokefree policies, and HUD's decision will help ensure that all remaining public housing residents have the right to breathe smokefree air at home.
"No one should have to breathe toxic air at home," Wimmer said. "We know that smokefree policies are achievable, and the only way to protect all residents of public housing is to adopt a nationwide smokefree policy. The Lung Association commends HUD for its efforts to protect the health of residents of federally-owned housing by encouraging broader adoption of smokefree policies."
PHAs would be able to expand smokefree locations, such as covering playgrounds or all of their outdoor property. The rule will cover both multi-unit and freestanding (scattered site) public housing properties, but it will not cover tenant-based or project-based Section 8 properties, nor will it cover tribal housing authorities. However, the proposed rule is a big step forward, and it is a part of the nationwide movement to expand the availability of smokefree housing for all types of multi-unit properties.
For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, tobacco use, smokefree environments and smokefree policies in multi-unit housing, contact the American Lung Association at Media@Lung.org or 312-801-7628.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.