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American Lung Association to Offer Assistance with Implementing HUDs Smokefree Housing Rule

American Lung Association to support public housing authorities, public housing residents by sharing expertise, resources and providing referrals to quit smoking services

(April 5, 2018) - CHICAGO

In support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) rule requiring all public housing agencies (PHAs) to implement a smokefree policy by July 31, 2018, and with funding from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, the American Lung Association will help facilitate successful implementation of the rule through the Smokefree Public Housing Initiative. The American Lung Association will assist public housing agencies (PHAs) through this new initiative in fostering a smooth transition in select states by sharing best practices from its many years of experience with implementing smokefree housing policies and providing quit-smoking support to residents who are ready to quit.

"This new lifesaving rule will protect millions of people living in public housing from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "We're grateful to have the support of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to implement our proven smoking cessation programs as well as share lung cancer screening information with residents of public housing."

Through this new initiative in 10 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia – the American Lung Association will provide public housing agencies and other low-income housing providers with technical assistance, expertise, resources and support to implement smokefree housing policies, and will provide residents with referral to proven-effective quit smoking services and information on the availability of lung cancer screening for those who meet the high-risk criteria.

On November 30, 2016, HUD announced its final rule that requires all public housing agencies to implement smokefree policies over the following 18 months. The new smokefree rule will protect close to two million residents living in public housing from exposure to secondhand smoke. This population includes many of those most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, including close to 700,000 children and more than 300,000 adults over the age of 62. The smokefree policies apply to all residential units as well as common areas, and include a 25 foot buffer zone around buildings.

"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 the entire building to be completely smokefree," Wimmer said. "To assist in this process, the Lung Association stands ready with tools and resources to help public housing agencies implement and enforce smokefree policies."

The U.S. Surgeon General has stated there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. More than 41,000 deaths per year in the United States are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke can cause or worsen a wide range of lung diseases in children and adults including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma exacerbations. Cancer survivors are particularly vulnerable to exposure to secondhand smoke, and among lung cancer patients, exposure leads to higher death rates.

"The lifesaving benefits of a transition to smokefree indoor air at home are tremendous, but we also understand that for those residents who smoke, quitting can be difficult," Wimmer said. "Smoking is a serious addiction, and we are committed to helping public housing residents quit smoking if they’re ready to do so."

For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, tobacco use, proven effective quit smoking methods or tobacco policies, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] 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 coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit:

The mission of Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to promote health equity and to improve the health outcomes of populations disproportionately affected by serious diseases by strengthening healthcare worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease. The Smokefree Public Housing initiative is funded through their Bridging Cancer Care™ initiative. Bridging Cancer Care™ focuses grant making on pilot projects that aim to reduce the burden of lung cancer among minority and underserved populations through innovative models of prevention, detection and education, and by helping those living with lung cancer to access and navigate cancer care and community-based support services.

For more information about the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, please visit us online, or follow us on Twitter at

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