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Organizations Serving Public Housing Residents

Resources for HUD Housing Managers on Going Smokefree

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is supporting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in its effort to protect staff and residents working and living in federally owned and operated public housing units from the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.

HUD’s Smokefree Rule: What You Need to Know

HUD's smokefree rule [PDF - 488KB],1 which became effective on February 3, 2017, requires that within 18 months, every public housing agency (PHA) implement a policy prohibiting lit tobacco products (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and hookahs) in all living units and indoor common areas in federally owned and operated multiunit public housing, and in PHA administrative office buildings.

Since 2009, HUD has strongly encouraged PHAs to adopt smokefree policies covering living units and common areas, a policy many private housing developments already have in place. During this time, more than 600 PHAs and Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) have adopted at least partial smokefree policies. Through this voluntary effort and local initiatives, more than 228,000 public housing units are already smokefree. Once fully implemented, the HUD smokefree rule will expand the impact to more than 940,000 public housing units, including more than 500,000 units inhabited by elderly residents. Importantly, the rule will protect the 760,000 children living in public housing."2

What is Secondhand Smoke and How is it Harmful?

Secondhand smoke is smoke from burning tobacco products or smoke that has been exhaled by a person smoking.3 Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer. Exposure to secondhand smoke causes disease and premature death among nonsmokers.3 There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that breathing secondhand smoke for even a short time is dangerous.5

Secondhand smoke has been shown to travel between units in multiunit housing, such as apartment buildings.4 Persons who live in rental housing are especially likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Other populations that are present in large numbers in public housing, including children, African Americans, and persons living below the poverty level, are also more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke. African American children are especially likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke.8

  • Secondhand smoke causes numerous health problems in infants and children, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, and ear infections.
  • In nonsmoking adults, secondhand smoke causes coronary heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer.6 Nonsmoking adults who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25–30%.6

How Does Smokefree Housing Benefit Housing Managers and Protect Residents?

There are proven benefits of smokefree housing for landlords, managers and their residents. These benefits include:

  • Improved safety. Smokefree housing reduces fires caused by smoking. It is estimated that smoking causes more than 100,000 fires each year nationwide, resulting in more than 500 deaths and nearly a half a billion dollars in direct property damage.8
  • Cost Savings. HUD's smokefree rule will reduce damage and maintenance costs associated with smoking. According to CDC, HUD's national smokefree policy will save public housing agencies $153 million every year, including $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units, $16 million in smoking-related fire losses, and $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care expenditures.9
  • Improved health. The home is a major source of secondhand smoke exposure, especially for children.5,8 Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke in these settings.5,6 More than four in five U.S. households have adopted smokefree home rules.10 However, even when they adopt such a rule, residents of multiunit housing can still be exposed to secondhand smoke that seeps into their units from other units and common areas.4,6,8

Free CDC Resources for Public Housing Managers

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Resources

Additional Free Resources

Posters and Print Materials

CDC Secondhand Smoke Posters

Brochures and Booklets

Citations:

  1. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Final Rule: Instituting SmokeFree Public Housing [PDF - 488KB]. Washington, DC: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing, HUD, 2016.
  2. HUD.gov. HUD Secretary Castro Announces Public Housing To Be SmokeFree. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2016.
  3. CDC. Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health, 2016.
  4. King BA, Travers MJ, Cummings KM, et al. Secondhand Smoke Transfer in Multiunit Housing. Nicotine Tob Res 2010;12:1133–41.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coordinating Center for Health Promotion, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006.
  6. CDC. Health Effects of Secondhand Smoke Fact Sheet. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Office on Smoking and Health, 2016.
  7. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Smokefree Housing: A Toolkit for Owners/Management Agents of Federally Assisted Public and Multi-Family Housing [PDF - 6MB]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control, 2016.
  8. CDC. Vital Signs: Disparities in Nonsmokers' Exposure to Secondhand Smoke—United States, 1999–2012. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2015;64(4):103–8.
  9. King BA, Peck RM, Babb SD. National and State Cost Savings Associated With Prohibiting Smoking in Subsidized and Public Housing in the United States. Preventing Chronic Disease Journal 2014;11:140222. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/.
  10. CDC. Prevalence of Smokefree Home Rules—United States, 1992–1993 and 2010–2011. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2014;63(35):765-9.
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