Eighteen months ago, HUD issued a final regulation requiring every public housing agency (PHA) across the country to provide a smoke-free environment for their residents. Today, that rule goes into effect.
As a former pediatric neurosurgeon, I know the damaging health effects that secondhand smoke can have on infants and children, such as severe asthma and ear and respiratory infections. Smoking is also the leading cause of fire-related deaths in multi-family apartment buildings.
HUD’s smoke-free rule will protect the health of families who live in public housing, visitors to public housing and those who work in public housing. This rule will also save significant amounts of money for public housing authorities. Turning over a smoker’s unit can cost more than a thousand dollars more than a non-smoker’s unit because of the additional labor and materials required. By eliminating smoking from public housing, the cost of property management and the medical costs for residents will be reduced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates our smoke-free policies will save public housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs and preventable fires, including $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units, and $16 million in smoking-related fire losses.
To help PHAs implement the rule and facilitate access to smoking cessation resources, HUD is working with federal and private sector partners who are assisting these housing agencies in providing assistance for residents who choose to quit. Our partner organizations include, but are not limited to: the CDC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Quitline Consortium, and the American Cancer Society.
This new smoke-free rule taking full effect today will improve health and safety conditions in public housing. And it will lower costs. Now that’s a win-win-win!