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District Families Living in Public Housing Now Protected from Secondhand Smoke Exposure

American Lung Association to support public housing authorities, public housing residents by sharing expertise, resources and providing quit smoking services

(July 30, 2018) - WASHINGTON, D.C.

Washington, D.C. public housing residents will be protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke through a new smokefree housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that goes into effect on July 30.

“Secondhand smoke is a serious health threat, and can linger in rooms and even travel between homes in multi-unit housing. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. This is especially true for children and those who are more vulnerable to the impact of second smoke, such as those living with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” said American Lung Association Chief Mission Officer Deborah P. Brown. “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. Today we’re making a healthier future for the District and our nation.”

In November 2016, the 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.

“This new rule means protection from life-threatening secondhand smoke for more than 13,000 Washingtonians,” said Brown. “We’re proud to assist in the implementation of smokefree policies and help smokers quit, when they’re ready, and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Brown. “We’re working throughout the city to not only make this transition to smokefree public housing a success, but to also help as many as possible in the D.C. area go smoke free.”

Through a smoking cessation grant from the CVS Foundation, the American Lung Association in the District of Columbia is partnering with the National Urban League to provide quit smoking resources to the African American community in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including many residents of public housing. The Lung Association is also working to help low- and mixed-income properties, particularly in Wards 5, 7, and 8, to voluntarily implement smokefree policies. In areas where the smokefree rule doesn’t apply, the Lung Association is using funding from DC Health, to provide technical assistance and educating to both residents and property owners and managers on the benefits of smokefree policies. The Lung Association has recently helped a number of local properties successfully become smokefree, including: Edgewood Commons, Golden Rule Apartments, Golden Rule Plaza, Roundtree Residences, and Vesta Corporation.

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

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 717-971-1123, 717-503-3903 (cell).



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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