American Lung Association in Wisconsin Commends HUD’s Plan to Make Public Housing Smokefree
The American Lung Association in Wisconsin strongly supports HUD’s rule and stands by to assist public housing authorities that go smokefree.
(November 30, 2016) - Brookfield, WI
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The American Lung Association in Wisconsin applauds the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its announcement today that will require all public housing agencies to go smokefree. This rule will protect two million Americans, across the country, from exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes. This includes those most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, including 760,000 children and more than 300,000 adults over the age of 62. The policies apply to residential units as well as common areas.
“Smokefree housing is a win-win – residents breathe better and it costs housing authorities less when their buildings are smokefree. We are glad to see smokefree housing which has been so successful here in Wisconsin be expanded nationwide,” said Linda Witucki. “Home should be a place safe from the risks of secondhand smoke exposure,” said Linda Witucki. “The American Lung Association welcomes this life-saving announcement that will protect so many from those risks, especially the most vulnerable – children, the elderly, low-income Americans and those with chronic lung disease.”
The Wisconsin Clear Gains program, a collection of statewide organizations that provides support and guidance to Wisconsin's smoke-free housing initiative administered by the Lung Association has been proactively working with housing authorities around the state to assist them in the transition. Efforts have included educating residents and managers, establishing boundaries, offering cessation resources and providing timelines and documents to facilitate the process. Presently, of Wisconsin’s 130 local housing authorities, 73* already offer at least one building that is smoke free. The remainder will have 18 months to fully implement the policy.
Going smoke free will make breathing considerably easier for people with asthma and other lung disease. Scientific research has demonstrated that up to 60 percent of the air in multi-unit housing is recycled between apartments. Even residents who don’t allow any smoking in their living quarters frequently experience unhealthy levels of secondhand smoke intruding from neighboring units. In 2005 the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) stated, “The only means of effectively eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity.”
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Across the U.S., more than 41,000 deaths per year and a wide array of damaging health effects are caused or made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Asthma has a disproportionate impact on low-income residents living in federally subsidized housing and exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger asthma exacerbations. Children with asthma are especially sensitive to secondhand smoke, and may suffer from more frequent asthma attacks and more and longer hospitalizations as a result.
“Because there’s no effective way to prevent smoke from travelling from one unit to another, the only way to fully protect residents of multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke, is for their building to go 100 percent smokefree,” said Linda Witucki. “To help in this process, the Lung Association stands ready with tools and resources to help public housing authorities go smokefree.”
More than 600 public housing authorities nationwide have already gone smokefree, protecting their residents and reducing the risk of fires and costs to property owners. The Lung Association continues to assist housing authorities, property owners and residents who are acting voluntarily to make their public housing smokefree, and has also created resources to assist property owners and residents, including an online course, fact sheets and policy briefs, which can be found at Lung.org/smokefreehousing.
*Wisconsin Housing Authorities with at least one smokefree building:
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.