American Lung Association to Offer Assistance with Implementing HUDs Smokefree Housing Rule

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

In support of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) rule requiring all public housing agencies (PHAs) to implement a smokefree policy by July 31, 2018, and with funding from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, the American Lung Association will help facilitate successful implementation of the rule through the Smokefree Public Housing Initiative. The American Lung Association will assist public housing agencies (PHAs) through this new initiative in fostering a smooth transition in select states by sharing best practices from its many years of experience with implementing smokefree housing policies and providing quit-smoking support to residents who are ready to quit.

"This new lifesaving rule will protect millions of people living in public housing from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "We're grateful to have the support of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation to implement our proven smoking cessation programs as well as share lung cancer screening information with residents of public housing."

Through this new initiative in 10 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and 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.

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.

"Because there's no effective way to prevent smoke from travelling from one unit to another, the only way to fully protect residents of multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke is for the entire building to be completely smokefree," Wimmer said. "To assist in this process, the Lung Association stands ready with tools and resources to help public housing agencies implement and enforce smokefree policies."

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.

"The lifesaving benefits of a transition to smokefree indoor air at home are tremendous, but we also understand that for those residents who smoke, quitting can be difficult," Wimmer said. "Smoking is a serious addiction, and we are committed to helping public housing residents quit smoking if they’re ready to do so."

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 at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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