For a decade, the American Lung Association has worked to ensure everyone living in public housing is protected from secondhand smoke. On July 31, 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) implemented a smokefree housing rule that does just that by protecting the close to two million public housing residents, especially those who live with mental illness and substance use disorders.
About the Smokefree at Home Project
The American Lung Association, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, conducted the Smokefree at Home project in 2018 and 2019 to facilitate the successful implementation of HUD's smokefree housing rule and improve health outcomes for all residents, including people living with behavioral health conditions (i.e., mental health and substance use). The project's goal is to ensure that members of the behavioral health community are supported in their adjustment to the new smokefree policy, remain in their homes and, for those interested in quitting smoking, have access to cessation programs and services.
Working with Community Partners
In partnership with Mental Health America, the American Lung Association worked with community partners to better equip property managers with the tools to support residents as they go smokefree at home. Together, we have awarded eight mini-grants to Mental Health America affiliates to assist in their work with one or more public housing authorities in compliance with the rule focused on residents with behavioral health conditions.
Why the Behavioral Health Community?
People living with mental illness and substance use disorders smoke at higher rates, are often more heavily addicted and may have a harder time quitting than the public. In addition, behavioral health advocates are concerned about housing security for their constituents as the smokefree public housing rule is implemented and enforced.
Key Facts About Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use
The perception is that tobacco use relieves feelings of tension and anxiety and is often used to cope with stress. However, people develop an addiction to nicotine and the daily routines around its use. People may also smoke to feel "part of a group." This can be especially true in residential and treatment settings.1
- It is estimated that 35 percent of cigarette smokers have a behavioral health disorder and account for 38 percent of all U.S. adult cigarette consumption.2
- Despite the national cigarette smoking rate being 14 percent overall among adults, it is 23 percent for individuals with a behavioral health disorder.2
- The nicotine dependency rate for individuals with behavioral health disorders is 2-3 times higher than the general population.3
For more information, visit Behavioral Health & Tobacco Use.
Hult Center for Health Living, Illinois
Mental Health Association of Central Kansas
Mental Health Connecticut
Mental Health America of Eastern Carolina
Mental Health America of Eastern Tennessee
Mental Health America of Kentucky
Mental Health Association of Southeast Florida
Mental Health America of Southwestern Pennsylvania
Tobacco Use Recovery Now! (TURN). Tobacco Treatment for Persons with Substance Use Disorders. https://www.dshs.wa.gov/sites/default/files/BHSIA/dbh/documents/COTobaccoToolkit.pdf. Published Date Unknown. Accessed January 29, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey, 2017. Analysis performed by the American Lung Association Epidemiology and Statistics Unit using SPSS software.
Schroeder SA, & Morris CD. Confronting a neglected epidemic: Tobacco cessation for persons with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems. Annu Rev Public Health. 2010; 31: 297-314.
Page last updated: December 10, 2020