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Pennsylvania 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) - HARRISBURG, Pa.

Pennsylvania 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. A move to smokefree public housing will protect the health of millions of people from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke,” said American Lung Association Chief Mission Officer Deborah P. Brown. “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, and we’re proud to assist in the implementation of smokefree policies and help smokers quit, when they’re ready.”

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 means approximately 110,000 Pennsylvanians living in local public housing authorities will be protected.

The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania is the Regional Primary Contractor for Tobacco Control in the Southcentral, Northcentral, and Northeast region. With tobacco control funding form the Pennsylvania Department of Health we have been able to provide technical assistance to multi-unit housing authorities, to assist them in going smokefree.

The Lung Association has provided multi-unit housing authorities assistance in updating or creating smokefree policies at their locations. We have also been able to provide them with tobacco resources to help their residents and employees quit smoking. This includes providing them information about the Pennsylvania Free Quitline and our Freedom From Smoking® Clinics either at their locations or information about clinics in their areas.

We have also created smokefree housing packets that community partners can use when speaking with housing authorities, and have created both a private housing authority packet, as well as a public housing authority packet. We have continued to be engaged, working with a Housing Authority Consultant to reach out   to housing authorities with a status survey, and continue to provide them with follow up on technical assistance.

“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 Brown. “Today we’re taking real steps towards a healthier future for Pennsylvania and our nation, and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come.”

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 or 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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