American Lung Association Supports Department of Housing and Urban Development Recommendation on Non-Smoking Policies in Public Housing

Eliminating Smoking Would Protect Those at Increased Risk from Unhealthy Air

(July 20, 2009)

Statement of Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and its Office of Public and Indian Housing today issued new recommendations for non-smoking policies for public housing. These recommendations strongly encourage Public Housing Authorities to enact non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units.

The American Lung Association applauds HUD on these important recommendations that could result in protection for residents of public housing across the country, especially children, the elderly and people with chronic lung diseases.  Residents of public housing are among those most at risk from unhealthy air from a variety of factors, including a high prevalence of secondhand smoke. The Lung Association strongly recommends that all public housing units adopt non-smoking policies to ensure no one – especially children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases – has to breathe dangerous secondhand smoke.  

Because tobacco smoke can migrate between units in multiunit housing, it can cause respiratory illness, heart disease, cancer, and other adverse health effects in neighboring families. Exposure to secondhand smoke impedes the development of a child’s lungs, aggravates asthma, often resulting in hospitalizations, and causes scores of other health problems. Smoking is also a major cause of fires and fire-related deaths and injuries.

Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to children, whose lungs are still developing. A 2007 Johns Hopkins University study of home indoor pollutant exposure among inner city children found that between 57 and 60 percent of these children lived with at least one person who smoked.

The Lung Association also recommends increased smoking cessation support through public health programs, especially Medicaid, to more effectively reduce exposure to smoke among this very vulnerable population. As the HUD memo noted, the Lung Association maintains information on tobacco cessation coverage and services provided in each state at www.lung.org/cessationcoverage.

The HUD notice is posted at www.hud.gov/offices/pih/publications/notices/09/pih2009-21.pdf.

The American Lung Association is committed to saving the lives of all Americans, particularly children, and stands ready to provide smoking cessation services and invites local housing authorities to join with us in this effort.   The American Lung Association is proud to offer Freedom From Smoking®, the gold standard in smoking cessation programs. This program is available in many formats including a group clinic held in communities across the nation, a self-help manual and an Internet-based program (www.ffsonline.org). The Lung Association also offers free cessation counseling through our Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA.