The American Lung Association in Ohio applauds the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its recent announcement that will require all public housing agencies to go smoke-free. This rule will protect two million Americans, across the country, from exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes. This includes those most vulnerable to the effects of secondhand smoke, including 760,000 children and more than 300,000 adults over the age of 62. The policies apply to residential units as well as common areas.
“Smoke-free housing is a win-win – residents breathe better and it costs housing authorities less when their buildings are smoke-free. We are glad to see smoke-free housing which has been so successful here in Ohio be expanded nationwide,” said Shelly Kiser, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Ohio. “Home should be a place safe from the risks of secondhand smoke exposure. The American Lung Association welcomes this life-saving announcement that will protect so many from those risks, especially the most vulnerable – children, the elderly, low-income Americans and those with chronic lung disease.”
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Across the U.S., more than 41,000 deaths per year and a wide array of damaging health effects are caused or made worse by exposure to secondhand smoke, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. Asthma has a disproportionate impact on low-income residents living in federally subsidized housing and exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks. Children with asthma are especially sensitive to secondhand smoke, and may suffer from more frequent asthma attacks and more and longer hospitalizations as a result.
“Because there’s no effective way to prevent smoke from traveling from one unit to another, the only way to fully protect residents of multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke, is for their building to go 100 percent smoke-free,” said Kiser. “To help in this process, the Lung Association stands ready with tools and resources to help public housing authorities go smoke-free.”
More than 600 public housing authorities nationwide have already gone smoke-free, protecting their residents and reducing the risk of fires and costs to property owners. In Ohio, this includes the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority in Toledo and Homeport in Columbus. The Lung Association continues to assist housing authorities, property owners and residents who are acting voluntarily to make their public housing smoke-free, and has also created resources to assist property owners and residents, including an online course, fact sheets and policy briefs, which can be found at Lung.org/smokefreehousing.
“The American Lung Association in Ohio has been an advocate for the HUD ruling in the state of Ohio and has helped organize other Ohio organizations in advocating for the ruling,” said Kiser. “The Lung Association has assisted and will continue to assist multi-unit housing authorities and other property owners in Ohio to go smoke-free to protect people with lung disease, like children with asthma and seniors with COPD.”