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37,000 Public Housing Units in Massachusetts Now Protected from Secondhand Smoke

(July 30, 2018) - BOSTON

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Solomon
[email protected]
(516) 680-8927

A new smokefree housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) goes into effect today, protecting families living the 37,000 federally funded public housing units throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from secondhand smoke.  The American Lung Association applauds the new rule, which recognizes the serious health threat posed by secondhand smoke, and its ability to linger in rooms and even travel between homes in multi-unit housing. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life, and ensuring homes are free from the risks of secondhand smoke is a critical step for the health of residents,” said Jeff Seyler, Chief Division Officer of the American Lung Association. “This is especially true for children and those who are more vulnerable to the impact of secondhand smoke, such as those living with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Today we’re making a healthier future for Massachusetts and our nation.”

In November 2016, then U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Castro visited Boston to announce a rule requiring all federally-owned public housing to become smokefree by July 30, 2018. This rule will protect close to two million Americans nationwide from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, including 690,000 children.  At the time, Boston was the largest city in the country to require public housing authorities adopt smokefree policies. 

The American Lung Association celebrates this long-awaited health protection, following more than a decade of advocacy for the passage of the rule as well as support for the implementation of smokefree housing policies in local public housing authorities. For many years, the Massachusetts Department of Health and partners, including the American Lung Association, have provided resources for residents, building managers and owners of multi-unit housing to support smokefree policies.  As of July 30, 2018 the rule prohibits the use of lit tobacco products and hookahs inside all indoor areas and 25 feet from 69 different federally funded public housing authorities throughout the entire Commonwealth. Awareness among public housing visitors, applicants, new employees, vendors and others will be crucial to its ability to protect all residents from secondhand smoke.  

“Today we celebrate this important step to protect the health of residents of Massachusetts public housing authorities, and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Lance Boucher, Senior Director of State Advocacy – Eastern Division.  “We hope that this rule will inspire more of Massachusetts multi-unit residential buildings and college campuses to go smokefree as well.”

Secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health threats to both children and adults. Damaging health effects in children and adults include lung cancer, respiratory infections, worsened asthma symptoms, heart attacks and stroke. For residents of multi-unit housing (e.g., apartment buildings and condominiums), secondhand smoke can be a major concern even if people don’t smoke in your unit, as smoke can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems.

American Lung Association materials and success stories on smokefree housing can be found at Lung.org/smokefreehousing.

For media interested in speaking with an expert about local public housing authorities transition to smokefree, secondhand smoke or lung health, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 516-680-8927.

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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: Lung.org.

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