218909 Understanding Legal and Policy Issues Around Smoke-free Public Housing

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

Mark A. Gottlieb, JD , Public Health Advocacy Institute / AAP Richmond Center, Boston, MA
Unlike market rate housing in the private sector that responds to market demands, public housing consumers find themselves in a weak negotiating position over smoking policy. Children in public housing are often exposed to tobacco smoke even though there may be no smoker residing with them. Smoke seepage through ventilation systems or other means results in chronic exposure to a significant health threat.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) issued a memorandum to public housing authorities strongly urging them to adopt non-smoking policies covering common areas and living units to protect residents from tobacco smoke exposure and requiring these authorities to include smoking policy status with their annual reports.

In the 2009 federal stimulus legislation, HUD issued a request for proposals for funds for public housing capital improvements that provided for a better score for non-smoking project proposals.

These recent changes in HUD policy may provide an opportunity to urge local public housing authorities to phase in 100% smoke-free policies. Only about 5% of local housing authorities have adopted non-smoking policies for living units. While these policies will protect the health of vulnerable residents and save money due to lower maintenance costs, transitioning to a smoke-free policy may seem like a daunting challenge and an imposition on smoking residents.

A better understanding of how a smoke-free policy can be phased into public housing programs and the benefits of such policies may help HUD to achieve its goal of increasing smoke-free public housing opportunities.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Analyze the challenges and opportunities created by recent changes to the legal and regulatory landscape for protecting children from exposure to tobacco smoke in public housing programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Keywords: Tobacco Policy, Housing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a law and policy researcher with many years experience addressing tobacco control issues and am a site P.I. of of a children's health tobacco control center: the American Academy of Pediatrics' Julius B Richmond Center of Excellence
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.