PI is thrilled by the news today that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has finalized requirements to ensure that all public housing residents live in smoke-free environments. HUD will support more than 3,100 public housing agencies in implementing smoke-free policies that will protect more than two million people.
Prevention Institute and many of its partners offered comments in support of the rule, which will boost health equity by creating a healthier living environment for people who are disproportionately affected by conditions detrimental to health, such as poverty, unemployment, and violence. The rule will prohibit use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and hookahs in the housing units and in outdoor areas within 25 feet of the buildings, as well as allowing further restrictions around areas like playgrounds. Going smoke-free is expected to save $153 million each year on healthcare costs from secondhand smoke and building repairs resulting from damages from smoke exposure and fires.
This rule is another step in a long journey toward health equity where tobacco is concerned – from the first policies designating smoke-free spaces in the 1980s to a shift in norms around tobacco use. Yet the CDC estimates that more than 480,000 people still die each year from tobacco-related deaths -- including secondhand smoke in shared housing. HUD’s rule on smoke-free public housing will help immensely to bridge the gap between public and private tobacco abuse — and help bring healthier norms home.