World No Tobacco Day, an annual event organized by the World Health Organization, highlights the dangers of tobacco use and promotes tobacco control policies. One victory I’m particularly proud of on this front is a hard-fought win in Guam to increase the age of sale of tobacco products.
New Study Shows Public Housing Residents Are Smoking at a Higher Rate
People living in public housing are more likely to smoke than the nation as a whole, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
One-third (33.6 percent) of adults living in public housing smoke compared to 15.1 percent of the general public. The study also found smokers surveyed were more likely to suffer from various tobacco-associated health risks, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and that half of those smokers reported making one or more attempts to quit smoking in the past year.
Those quit attempts may gain momentum thanks to a November HUD announcement that all its public housing living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices, and all nearby outdoor areas will go smoke-free. While hundreds of the more than 3,100 public housing agencies have already voluntarily gone smoke-free, the others have until August 2018 to comply. By eliminating secondhand smoke exposure in public housing units, all residents – including more than 760,000 children and 300,000 senior citizens – will breathe clean, smoke-free air where they live.
Since the first Surgeon General’s report on smoking more than 50 years ago, significant progress has been made in reducing smoking rates. Smoke-free public housing along with easy access to cessation services and other critical tobacco control measures will continue to improve public health and save lives.
ACS CAN will keep advocating in state legislatures for significant tobacco tax increases, smoke-free workplace laws, fully funding state tobacco prevention and cessation programs, and increasing access to affordable and comprehensive cessation services through private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. Additionally, we stand ready to work with our partners and HUD to ensure all public housing agencies across the country are smoke-free by 2018.