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Residents Deserve Protections from Dangers of Secondhand Smoke in Multiunit Housing, says American Lung Association

New study reinforces critical need to protect the health of 2 million Americans living in federally-subsidized housing

(October 20, 2016) - CHICAGO

For more information please contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

Statement of American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer in Response to "Health, Secondhand Smoke Exposure, and Smoking Behavior Impacts of No-Smoking Policies in Public Housing, Colorado, 2014-2015," published in Preventing Chronic Disease:
"Secondhand smoke exposure in public housing threatens the health of millions of Americans. No one should be forced to breathe secondhand smoke in their home. This important new study of smokefree public housing in Colorado found the policy was associated with lung health benefits, including a significant reduction in breathing problems. The findings are consistent with the health benefits we've seen when public housing, subsidized housing and market rate housing have adopted smokefree protections.
"This study reinforces the critical need to protect everyone from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. The American Lung Association calls on the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to release the rule that will make all federally subsidized housing smokefree – protecting 2 million people, including over 600,000 children – from the dangers of secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General has concluded over 10 years ago that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. More than 41,000 deaths per year are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke can cause or make worse a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Secondhand smoke migrates from other units and common areas and travels through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical outlets, plumbing and ventilation systems, making the need for smokefree housing essential for the health of all residents. The smokefree housing rule from HUD, which was proposed almost a year ago, is waiting for final approval from the White House.
"This study also highlights the urgent need to ensure that everyone, especially those living in public housing, has access to comprehensive tobacco cessation benefits so they can get the help they need to quit smoking. The Obama Administration must release updated guidance on cessation coverage that is consistent with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations, which were recently supported by Vice President Biden's Cancer Moonshot Blue Ribbon Panel. Coverage must include access to all seven U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medications, all three forms of counseling without barriers such as prior authorization, stepped therapy or cost-sharing. We are also calling on the nation's governors to ensure their state's Medicaid programs offer comprehensive cessation benefit to all enrollees without barriers.

"These straightforward steps to provide smokefree air and cessation coverage will improve the health of Americans and save lives."

Learn more about smokefree housing at For media interested in speaking with an expert about smokefree housing, tobacco use and lung health, contact Allison MacMunn at 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:

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