A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New HUD rules give public housing residents protection from secondhand smoke

Federal Public Housing residents in Kentucky gained further protections from the dangers of secondhand smoke Monday, as new smoke-free housing rules from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) tooke effect.

In November 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a rule requiring all federally-owned public housing to become smoke-free by July 30. 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 smoke-free housing policies in local public housing authorities. In Kentucky, it means protections for residents in local public housing agencies.

“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 Promotion Specialist Tami Cappelletti, RRT. “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 Kentucky and our nation.”

The American Lung Association in Kentucky has been working under an Anthem Foundation grant in support of this initiative for several years. As a result, more than 500 Freedom From Smoking facilitators have been trained across Kentucky to assist people in the quitting process.

The American Lung Association is offering the following FREE services for those living in public housing through in-person Freedom From Smoking cessation clinics, self-help quit smoking booklets and membership in the online Freedom from Smoking Plus program.

Those completing an in-person cessation program are eligible for 2 to 4 weeks of free nicotine replacement therapy and additional coaching following the competition of their in-person clinic. Free healthy substitution bags, filled with things to do instead of using tobacco are also offered.

The American Lung Association in Kentucky also provides assistance to housing authorities as they implement the program, including posters, signage, kick-off parties, etc.

As part of this effort, ALA has partnered with the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy, the Kentucky Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program, the Kentucky Cancer Consortium, Kentucky Public Health, Quit Now Kentucky, the Kentucky Housing Authority, county housing authorities, health departments statewide, Passport Health and Norton Health Care.

“Today we celebrate this important step to protect the health of residents in Kentucky and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Cappelletti.

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 smoke-free housing can be found at Lung.org.

From American Lung Association of Kentucky

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