All U.S. Public Housing Will Go Smoke-Free by 2018

01 Dec All U.S. Public Housing Will Go Smoke-Free by 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 30, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today 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.”

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer with the training and tools they need to make their voices heard. For more information, visit

HIGHLIGHTS: Smoke-free Public Housing Final Rule

On November 30, 2016, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro announced that public housing developments in the U.S. will be required to provide a smoke-free environment for their residents. The final rule includes input from more than 1,000 comments received from the public, including Public Housing Agencies (PHAs), housing and public health organizations, and tenants.

The final rule will:

  • Require more than 3,100 public housing agencies to implement smokefree policies within 18 months of the final rule being adopted.
  • Prohibit the use of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and hookah (waterpipes) in all living units, indoor common areas and administrative offices.
  • Prohibit the use of tobacco products covered by the policy in outdoor areas within 25 ft. from buildings.
  • Allow for further restrictions (e.g., buffer around playgrounds, restrict smoking to designated outdoor

    areas, property-wide smoke-free policy).

  • Apply to all housing types, including single family units.
  • Require PHAs to document their smoke-free policies in their PHA plans, a process that requires resident

    engagement and public meetings.

  • Help improve the health of more than 2 million public housing residents, including 760,000 children.
  • Save an estimated $153 million every year in costs from secondhand smoke attributable healthcare,

    repairs of smoke-permitted units and smoking attributable fires.

  • Impact the more than 940,000 units that are currently not smoke-free, including more than 500,000

    units inhabited by elderly individuals.

    The final rule does not cover:

    • Housing units in mixed finance developments.
    • Privately owned, federally subsidized multifamily housing (e.g. project-based Section 8 housing).
    • Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes).

      CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) is committed to assisting HUD in rolling out and implementing this landmark policy through: scientific support; connecting HUD to State Tobacco Control Programs; helping to facilitate cessation, communication, and evaluation support; and coordinating activities with other Federal agencies and partners.

      More specifically, CDC has worked closely with HUD in the following ways:

  • Scientific Support: Informing decision-makers on the public health benefits of smoke-free multiunit housing policies
  • Coordination: Connecting HUD to State Tobacco Control Programs and National Networks, as well as other federal agencies and national partners
  • Technical Assistance: Supporting policy development, implementation, and maintenance
  • Cessation Support: Connecting public residents to cessation services and support to help them quit

    tobacco use

  • Communication Support: Helping HUD Explain the policy’s scientific/health rationale to public housing

    residents and staff

    We look forward to the months ahead as we continue to work closely with tobacco control colleagues, public health partners, and sister federal agencies to make this landmark public health policy a successful reality.

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