By July 30, every public housing agency in the U.S. will need to have a smoke-free policy in place as required by the U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development, or HUD.
Here are five things to know about the policy.
1. The final rule for smoke-free public housing was published in November 2016. In February 2017, HUD released a set of guidelines for each public housing authority on how to implement the policy.
2. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HUD’s national smoke-free policy will save public housing agencies $153 million every year. That includes $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovations and $16 million in smoking-related fires.
3. The American Lung Association – a longtime advocate of the policy – has been supporting the implementation process with smoke-free signs and training for “cessation navigators.” These are “people that are really engaged with the residents, and that have a heart for people and really want to guide them to a tobacco-free life,” said Michelle Hicks-Turner, manager of health promotions at the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago.
4. The rule will protect 62,000 residents in local housing agencies – and nearly two million Americans nationwide – from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, according to the American Lung Association.
5. Low-income housing advocates have been vocal about possible negative consequences of the policy. Months prior to the rule’s publishing, the National Housing Law Project released a set of comments citing specific cases in which a smoke-free policy led to more evictions that in turn, brought on homelessness and housing instability – two important public health issues, according to NHLP.
“We support the goal of creating a smoke-free environments, we’re just worried that in trying to reach this laudable goal, a lot of very vulnerable people – elderly people and people with disabilities – are going to get evicted from the only decent housing they can afford,” said Lawrence Wood, director of the Housing Practice Group at LAF who signed onto the letter.
Hicks-Turner and Wood join us to discuss the pros and cons of the policy.
Note: This story will be updated with video following our Monday evening broadcast.