The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced its final rule to require more than 3,100 public housing agencies across the country to implement smoke-free policies in their developments.
The rule, which gives public housing agencies 18 months to comply, will prohibit lit tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and waterpipes, in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings.
A statement from Chris Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), follows:
“By eliminating secondhand smoke exposure in public housing units,more than 2 million U.S. residents living in public housing will breathe clean, smoke-free air where they live, improving the health of an estimated 760,000 children and more than 300,000 senior citizens.
“In addition to giving everyone the right to smoke-free air, smoke-free public housing will also encourage resident cigarette smokers to quit, which is why it’s essential such residents have access to affordable and comprehensive cessation services through private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare.
“While this final rule represents a significant public health improvement, it could have been stronger had it included electronic cigarettes. Serious questions remain about the health effects of inhaling electronic cigarette aerosol, especially by vulnerable populations such as children, and permitting their use could pose enforcement challenges.
“ACS CAN is ready to assist HUD with implementation of this rule. Additionally, we will continue to advocate for strong, comprehensive smoke-free policies that prevent youth from starting to use tobacco and reduce exposure to the serious dangers of secondhand smoke. The most effective way to tackle tobacco use is through significant tobacco tax increases, smoke-free policies and fully funding state tobacco prevention and cessation programs.”