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Over 14,000 Public Housing Households in Connecticut Now Protected from Secondhand Smoke

(July 30, 2018) - HARTFORD, Conn.

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 residents of federally funded public housing units throughout the State of Connecticut 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 Connecticut and our nation.”

In November 2016, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced 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.

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 Connecticut Department of Public 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 all federally funded public housing authorities throughout the entire State.

In all, there are 108 public housing authorities in Connecticut, with 14,366 units, home to 22,748 residents (as of June 20, 2018), but only the 68 authorities (housing over 14,000 of those residents) that are federally funded are required to comply with the new rule.  However, according to the State Department of Public Health, many non-HUD authorities are also going smokefree.  As of August 2017, 41 of the 108 public housing authorities in Connecticut already had smokefree policies in place.  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 Connecticut public housing authorities, and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Ruth Canovi, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Connecticut.  “We hope that this rule will inspire more of Connecticut’s multi-unit residential buildings and college campuses to go smoke and tobacco free 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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