Health Groups Applaud Decision to Ban Smoking in Public Housing
The American Lung Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics say that a decision by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to prevent smoking on the premises of a public housing facility could help save lives and improve the quality of living in such facilities.
Federal officials want residents of public housing to butt out. And some prominent health groups couldn’t agree more.
This week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a plan to implement smoke-free housing policies at public housing facilities around the country over an 18-month period. Planning has been in the works between HUD and more than 3,100 public housing agencies nationally.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “HUD’s smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities. By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD’s rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires.”
Beyond helping the public, it’s believed that the policy will help save $153 million each year, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—savings that will come not only from lower healthcare costs but also from lower renovation costs and fire risks at public housing facilities.
Quick to respond to this news were the American Lung Association (ALA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which offered a joint statement of commendation for the policy change this week.
“The American Lung Association welcomes this life-saving announcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect the more than two million Americans living in public housing from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke,” ALA President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer said in a news release. “We are committed to working with housing authorities and their residents across the country to implement smokefree housing and to help smokers who want to quit do so.”
AAP President Benard P. Dreyer added that the shift was long-awaited, as secondhand smoke in such buildings is known to “put children at risk for asthma flare-ups, trouble breathing and severe long-term health issues.”
With the rule change coming near the end of the Obama administration, concerns that the rule might be rolled back linger, Castro conceded. But in comments on a conference call, Castro expressed optimism that it would keep—especially considering the potential cost savings and public benefit.
“I’m convinced that no matter the political persuasion, the public health benefit is so tremendous and the resident support for going smoke free is so tremendous that this rule will stick,” Castro said, according to Reuters.