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American Lung Association Supports Public Housing Transition in West Virginia to Smokefree, Helps Smokers Quit

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

(July 30, 2018) - CHARLESTON, W.V.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) is requiring all public housing agencies (PHAs) across the nation, including in West Virginia, to implement a smokefree policy by July 31, 2018. To support this effort, the American Lung Association will assist public housing agencies'’ (PHAs), transition through the new Smokefree Public Housing Initiative, funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. The Lung Association will share best practices to implement smokefree housing policies, provide quit-smoking support to residents who are ready to quit and offer information on lung cancer screening to those who might qualify.

“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, and we’re proud to assist in the implementation of smokefree policies and help smokers quit, when they’re ready.”

Through this new initiative across 10 states including West Virginia, the American Lung Association will provide public housing agencies and other low-income housing providers with technical assistance, expertise, resources and support to implement smokefree housing policies, and will provide residents with referral to proven-effective quit smoking services and information on the availability of lung cancer screening for those who meet the high-risk criteria.

The American Lung Association in West Virginia is particularly passionate about its efforts to link qualified rural individuals living in income based housing to lung cancer screenings. Although where you live alone can’t forecast you risk of cancer, it can have a major impact on prevention, diagnosis and treatment opportunities. In fact, the CDC found that rural areas had higher rates of new cases as well as deaths from cancers related to tobacco use. ALA will be partnering with rural health centers to screen and link residents to lung cancer screenings to increase those linked to care, but to also use Lung Cancer Screenings as a tool to motivate individuals to quit tobacco.

On November 30, 2016, HUD announced its final rule that requires all public housing agencies to implement smokefree policies over the following 18 months. The new smokefree rule will protect close to two million residents living in public housing from exposure to secondhand smoke. This population includes many of those most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, including close to 700,000 children and more than 300,000 adults over the age of 62. The smokefree policies apply to all residential units as well as common areas, and include a 25-foot buffer zone around buildings.

“The reality is that smoke seeps from one unit to another and there is no way to keep it separate, which places the health of everyone living in the building, including children, at risk. The only way to truly protect residents from secondhand smoke is for the entire building to be completely smokefree,” Brown said. “This new project will provide important tools and resources to help public housing agencies implement and enforce smokefree policies in West Virginia.”

The U.S. Surgeon General has stated there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. More than 41,000 deaths per year in the United States are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke can cause or worsen a wide range of lung diseases in children and adults including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma exacerbations. Cancer survivors are particularly vulnerable to exposure to secondhand smoke, and among lung cancer patients, exposure leads to higher death rates.

For media interested in speaking with an expert about lung health, tobacco use, proven effective quit smoking methods or tobacco policies, contact the American Lung Association in West Virginia Communications Director Ewa Dworakowski at [email protected]  or by calling 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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