New Study: Smokefree Multi-Family Housing Saves Money in Addition to Saving Lives

Underscores need for HUD to make all multi-family housing smokefree

Statement of Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO, American Lung Association

Washington, D.C. (April 16, 2013)

"A new study published today in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine finds that making subsidized housing in the U.S. smokefree would yield cost-savings of approximately $521 million per year. The study adds to the mounting list of reasons the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should adopt a nationwide smokefree policy covering all multi-family housing under its control.

"According to the report, tobacco smoking in multi-family housing can lead to secondhand smoke exposure among nonsmokers, increased maintenance costs for units where smoking is permitted, and fire risks. The study estimates cost savings at $341 million in secondhand smoke-related healthcare expenditures, $108 million in renovation expenses, and $72 million in smoking-attributable fire losses. During 2009–2010, approximately 7.1 million individuals lived in subsidized housing in the U.S., a large proportion of which were children, elderly, or disabled.

"Evidence shows that residents of multi-family housing are exposed to secondhand smoke even if they live in a unit where no one smokes. Nearly 63 million of the 79 million Americans who live in multi-family housing do not allow smoking in their homes, but approximately 28 million of them reported that secondhand smoke still infiltrated their homes according to a recent study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

"Secondhand smoke contains many poisons, and exposure to these toxins poses health concerns for all individuals, particularly children and pregnant women. The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report details how even small amounts of exposure can have serious health effects, including causing or exacerbating asthma attacks and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), as well as lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory infections.

"The American Lung Association is working diligently nationwide to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in multi-family houses and improve the health of those families. Some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens live in subsidized multi-family housing and the Lung Association’s efforts show that protecting residents from secondhand smoke exposure makes a difference.

"In January, the American Lung Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and 17 other medical and public health organizations filed comments with HUD urging the agency to adopt a smokefree policy covering all multi-family housing under its control. This study confirms that a smokefree policy in all subsidized housing, in conjunction with comprehensive quit-smoking health benefits, would drastically improve public health and save the nation millions of dollars in the process."

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. 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-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.