Lung Association Study Outcomes Encourages Public Housing Authorities to Adopt Policies Prohibiting Smoking in Buildings they Manage | American Lung Association

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Lung Association Study Outcomes Encourages Public Housing Authorities to Adopt Policies Prohibiting Smoking in Buildings they Manage

(November 10, 2015) - DENVER, CO

A Colorado study recently completed by a research team of the American Lung Association in Colorado titled, "Health and Economic Impacts of No-smoking Policies in Multiunit Housing"  has motivated the Colorado Board of Health , the Colorado Tobacco Review Committee and the Office of Health Equity to encourage public housing authorities to adopt policies prohibiting smoking in the buildings they manage. A letter inviting Colorado's affordable housing community to reduce exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and produce healthier environments for their residents and employees was mailed this week.  

The American Lung Association study included surveys of residents before and after no-smoking policy implementation. The research team found that these policies were associated with: 

reduced resident and staff exposure to secondhand smoke; 

reduced incidence of acute secondhand smoke associated health issues;  

increases in resident quit smoking attempts; 

increases in smoking cessation; and 

reduced daily consumption of cigarettes. 

Cindy Liverance, Deputy Director for the local Lung Association said, "Colorado is widely recognized as the nation's most healthy state. By actively encouraging Colorado public housing authorities and other multiunit housing groups to adopt smoke-free policies, the Colorado Board of Health is affirming that recognition."

The Board Of Health letter sent out encouraged all public housing properties to follow the lead of thirty-three public housing authorities in Colorado that already prohibit smoking in all indoor areas, including individual units, within at least 25’ of all windows, doors, balconies, parking structures and air intake vents, and all outdoor gathering areas such as playgrounds, and common areas. 

Interviews with housing managers also found another reason for implementing a no-smoking policy - the savings that could accrue by eliminating the high cost of turning over a smoke damaged unit. Repair costs for heavily smoke-damaged units were found to be between $5,500 to $12,000, versus $500 to $2,500 for a non-smoking unit. The study also found that 58% of resident smokers and 92% of non-smokers supported the no-smoking policy in their building. 

Low income and senior Coloradans, the primary residents of public housing, bear a significant disproportion of the tobacco related health burden. In 2014, low socio-economic status Coloradans who smoke attempted to quit smoking at similar or higher rates than the general population of adult smokers, however, this population group remains 1.7 times more likely to smoke than other Colorado adults and 2.8 times more likely to smoke than adults earning $50,000 or more per year.  

Dr. Walter Young, the principal investigator on the study, said, "Colorado public housing authorities have a responsibility to provide a healthful and safe environment for their residents.   It is only a matter of time until standards for housing will include no smoking rules." He also encourages owners and managers of market-rate, multiunit housing to adopt and implement no smoking policies to protect residents, staff and visitors from the health effects of secondhand smoke.

Additional information about smoke-free policies in multiunit housing can be found at

CONTACT: Cindy Liverance  |  American Lung Association in Colorado
P: 303-388-4327
 E: [email protected]
CONTACT: Walter 'Snip' Young, PhD
P: 303-358-4681 E: [email protected]


About the American Lung Association in Colorado 

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 

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