Most Vulnerable Californians to Benefit from Federal Plan for Smokefree Public Housing
(November 30, 2016) - Sacramento
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The American Lung Association in California applauds the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its announcement today that will require all public housing agencies to go smokefree. The policy covers residential units as well as common areas. This rule will protect two million Americans across the country from exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes.
“A person’s home should be a safe place, free from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure. This life-saving announcement will protect our most vulnerable residents – children, the elderly and those with chronic lung illnesses,” said Olivia Diaz-Lapham, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California. “We have seen so much success with smokefree housing in California and we’re thrilled to see it expand nationwide.”
The American Lung Association in California has worked with public housing authorities in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and dozens more cities to make homes for low-income residents smokefree. Public housing facilities in these cities must be at least 75 percent smokefree and that includes patios and balconies. It’s a critical effort towards improving public health in California.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. It can cause or worsen illnesses including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Asthma has a disproportionate impact on low-income residents living in federally subsidized housing and exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger asthma exacerbations. Children with asthma are especially sensitive and may suffer from more frequent asthma attacks and longer hospitalizations as a result.
“Since there is no way to prevent smoke from travelling between units, the only way to fully protect these vulnerable residents is for multi-unit housing buildings to be 100 percent smokefree,” said Diaz-Lapham. “To help in this process, we stand ready with tools and resources to help more public housing authorities in California go smokefree.”
The Lung Association has created resources to assist property owners and residents with making the move to a smokefree facility, including an online course, fact sheets and policy briefs, which can be found at www.lung.org/smokefreehousing.
In January, the American Lung Association in California will release its annual State of Tobacco Control Report which grades cities on their tobacco control policies. Grading includes, among other things, whether the public housing agency requires smokefree housing. You can see which cities in your area have smokefree public housing at http://www.lung.org/local-content/california/our-initiatives/state-of-tobacco-control/2016/2016-state-of-tobacco-control-county-grades.html.