From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM – In November 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a rule requiring all federally-owned public housing to become smokefree by July 30, 2018. This rule will protect close to two million Americans nationwide from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, including 690,000 children.
Secondhand smoke is a serious health threat and can linger in rooms and even travel between homes in multi-unit housing. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and today Alabama residents in public housing should be protected by a new smokefree housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that goes into effect today.
“Everyone deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life, and ensuring homes are free from the risks of secondhand smoke is a critical step for the health of residents,” said American Lung Association Health Promotions Specialist, Hazel Kochi. “This is especially true for children and those who are more vulnerable to the impact of secondhand smoke, such as those living with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Today we’re making a healthier future for Alabama and our nation.”
The American Lung Association celebrates this long-awaited health protection, following more than a decade of advocacy for the passage of the rule as well as support for the implementation of smokefree housing policies in local public housing authorities.
In Alabama, it means protection for over 38,000 public housing units. The American Lung Association is training staff, residents, and community leaders to become Cessation Navigators. Cessation Navigators are individuals trained to speak to residents about tobacco use and connect them to resources to help them quit smoking. We are also training individuals to become Certified Freedom From Smoking Facilitators, who will be able to conduct on-site cessation classes for residents.
“Today we celebrate this important step to the protect health of residents in Alabama, and we know we’ll see the health benefits for years to come,” said Kochi.
Secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health threats to both children and adults. Damaging health effects in children and adults include lung cancer, respiratory infections, worsened asthma symptoms, heart attacks and stroke. For residents of multi-unit housing (e.g., apartment buildings and condominiums), secondhand smoke can be a major concern even if people don’t smoke in your unit, as smoke can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems.
American Lung Association materials and success stories on smokefree housing can be found at Lung.org/smokefreehousing.