Millions of Families Now Protected from Secondhand Smoke Exposure at Home

Public housing now smokefree, protecting two million residents, including 690,000 children

The two million Americans living in public housing will now be protected by a new smokefree housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that should be implemented by all public housing agencies today. 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 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 from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, including 690,000 children.           

“In addition to our many years of helping Americans quit smoking, for a decade, the American Lung Association has been strongly supporting efforts to make public housing smokefree,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. “Today we celebrate this new rule taking effect as well as the health benefits residents, including children, will see long past this date, some – for a lifetime.”

Secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health threats to children and adults. In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General reported there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. 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, as it can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing and ventilation systems.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life, regardless of where they live, work or play,” Wimmer said. “Recognizing the dangers of secondhand smoke, throughout the decades the American Lung Association has been instrumental in advocating for smokefree spaces across our nation, from smokefree flights and public transit to smokefree restaurants, workplaces and casinos. We’re pleased that smokefree health protections are now finally extended to the homes of millions of Americans through smokefree public housing. And we stand ready to support public health residents with smoking cessation support.”

For a decade the American Lung Association has worked to ensure everyone living in public housing would be protected from secondhand smoke. The organization has worked on the successful implementation of the rule with local public housing authorities, the American Academy of Pediatrics, HUD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Lung Association is also proud to be working with the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Anthem Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Mental Health America on a variety of efforts related to smokefree public housing, including providing implementation support for smokefree policies and smoking cessation services.

“Smokefree housing is an important step to protect the health of everyone from secondhand smoke, including those more vulnerable such as children and those living with a lung disease,” Wimmer said. “It’s also important to recognize that tobacco use is a serious addiction, and when they’re ready, the American Lung Association is ready to help smokers quit with proven effective quit smoking methods.”

For media interested in speaking with an expert about smokefree spaces, secondhand smoke or lung health, contact the American Lung Association at [email protected] or 312-801-7628.

For more information, contact:

Allison MacMunn
[email protected]

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