Illinois Public Housing Authorities To Go Smokefree: Org Offers Free Program to Help Residents Quit, Buildings Prepare
(June 12, 2018) -
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By July 31, all public housing in Illinois must implement a smokefree policy, according to the new rule issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). To support this effort, the American Lung Association in Illinois is providing assistance to public housing authorities (PHAs) and other low-income multi-unit housing, as well as offering free smoking cessation resources for residents statewide. This is part of the new Smokefree Public Housing Initiative, funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.
Through this program, the Lung Association will share best practices to implement smokefree housing policies, provide free smoking cessation support to residents, and offer information on lung cancer screening to those who might qualify.
“A move to smokefree public housing will protect the health of millions of people from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke,” said Kristen Young, the executive director for the Lung Association. “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and we’re proud to assist in the implementation of smokefree policies and help smokers quit.”
In addition, the Lung Association will recruit and train Cessation Navigators in communities all over the state. Cessation Navigators will help public/low-income housing residents start on the path to a smokefree life by asking if they use tobacco, discussing cessation options and connecting them to free resources. Cessation Navigators will also encourage residents at risk or those living with lung cancer to receive lung cancer screenings or lung cancer treatment where and as appropriate.
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 nearly 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 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. At least 33 of the 109 PHAs in the state of Illinois are already partially or completely smokefree.
“The reality is that smoke seeps from one unit to another and there is no way to keep it separate, which places the health of everyone living in the building, including children, at risk. The only way to truly protect residents from secondhand smoke is for the entire building to be completely smokefree,” Young said. “This new project will provide important tools and resources to help public housing agencies implement and enforce smokefree policies in Illinois.”
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.
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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