This website uses cookies. By continuing you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

Virginia 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) - RICHMOND, Va.

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, and today Virginians living in public housing should be protected by a new smokefree housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that goes into effect today.

“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 American Lung Association Chief Mission Officer Deborah P. Brown. “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.”

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 2 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.

“In Virginia, this new rule means protections for more than 36,000 residents in local public housing agencies. The American Lung Association is ‘on the ground’ working with housing authorities to make the transition to a healthier, smokefree environment for their residents, and we’re there to give smokers the help they need to quit,” said Brown.

Support from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation has facilitated the distribution of American Lung Association Freedom From Smoking® (FFS) quit-smoking program materials to multi-unit housing communities throughout the state. Partnerships with the Virginia Department of Health, numerous redevelopment and housing authorities, the University of Virginia Cancer Center Without Walls Advisory Board, the Salvation Army and other groups have aided in the recruitment of an additional forty-one trained FFS facilitators who are ready to begin clinics or have already begun clinics. FFS clinics have begun in the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority, the Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority with additional clinic schedules being developed for Lynchburg and Southwest Virginia FFS clinic promotion through billboards, social media, partnering agencies’ websites, libraries, healthcare clinics, etc. has informed over 1,500,000 people that smoking cessation is within their grasp.

“Today we celebrate this important step to protect health of residents in Virginia, and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Brown. “We’re proud to assist in the implementation of smokefree policies and help smokers quit, when they’re ready. Today we’re making a healthier future for Virginia and our country.”

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:

Red button with telephone
Ask An Expert

Questions about your lung health? Need help finding healthcare? Call 1-800-LUNGUSA.

Get help
Red button of two hand prints
We need your generous support

Make a difference by delivering research, education and advocacy to those impacted by lung disease.

Button of turquoise LUNG FORCE swirl

LUNG FORCE unites women and their loved ones across the country to stand together in the fight against lung cancer.

Get involved
Join the fight for healthy lungs and healthy air.
Donate Now.