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 Tennessee residents in public housing should be protected by a new smokefree housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that is now in effect.
“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 Health Promotions Specialist Geneica Jones. “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. Today we’re making a healthier future for Tennessee and our nation.”
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 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 Tennessee it means protections for residents in local public housing.
The American Lung Association, with support from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, is conducting a Smokefree Public Housing Initiative to help facilitate the successful implementation of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) smokefree housing rule.
The Lung Association will work with HUD, public housing agencies (PHAs), public housing residents, and community health care providers in 10 states, including Tennessee, through June 30, 2019. The Initiative will provide Public Housing Authorities and other low-income housing providers with technical assistance, expertise, resources and supports to implement smokefree policies, and provide residents with referral to cessation services and lung cancer screening programs.
For the past two years they have been working with county health departments, to provide support on implementing the HUD mandate for the smoke free housing policy.
Among the activities since January 1 of this year are:
- Training Freedom From Smoking (FFS) Facilitators to conduct In-Person FFS Group Cessation Clinics, which offer a step-by-step quitting process including personalized attention and peer support.
- Implemented five Freedom From Smoking clinics to help individuals quit smoking
- Approached almost 200 Public Housing Authority properties highlighting the ruling and listing the many services the
- American Lung Association can offer as the properties implement their smokefree policies.
- Referred FFS group clinic participants to our Lung HelpLine for 2 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy
- Created door hangers and bookmarks displaying a “no smoking” message that will be made available to residents to display at their homes.
- Collaborated with health departments across Tennessee to coordinate initiative efforts at the local level across the state, including providing additional resources for distribution – such as cessation kits for individuals.
“Today we celebrate this important step to protect health of residents in Tennesse and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Jocelyn Hayward, MPH, Health Promotions Specialist with the American Lung Association.
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 Lung.org/smokefreehousing.