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HUD announces new action plan to create smoke-free housing

HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) has published a new 100-page action guide on establishing smoke-free public housing and multifamily properties. The authors provide the following summary:

HUD has encouraged the adoption of smoke-free policies for the past several years. In 2009 and 2012, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing issued Notices PIH 2009-21 and PIH 2012-25, stating that HUD “strongly encourages PHAs to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units.”

In September 2010, HUD’s Office of Housing issued a notice for owners/agents of federally subsidized private housing (later reissued as H 2012-22) encouraging the adoption of smoke-free policies in some or all of their properties. In 2012, HUD sent a smoke-free housing toolkit with background information and sample planning documents for implementation to directors of approximately 2,200 PHAs.

A major reason that HUD is committed to encouraging PHAs and property owners/agents of subsidized or market rate multifamily housing to implement smoke-free policies is that the movement of secondhand smoke between units cannot be controlled in multifamily buildings. Research has shown that ventilation and other air filtration technologies cannot eliminate the health risks caused by secondhand smoke exposure. HUD also supports smoke-free policies because they reduce property maintenance costs and the risk of fires.

One quarter of U.S. residents—approximately 79 million people—live in multifamily properties. This includes one-family houses attached to one or more other houses and buildings with two to 50 or more apartments. Even though the majority of people do not allow smoking in their homes, 36 percent regularly are exposed to secondhand smoke.

In the past 15 years, more than 500 PHAs throughout the nation have adopted and implemented smoke-free policies. The rate of adoption of smoke-free policies accelerated quickly following the publication of an official notice by HUD that strongly encouraged PHAs to adopt smoke-free policies. Also, a growing number of nationwide property management firms are going smoke-free across all properties.

The action guide is divided into five sections that cover reasons to adopt a smoke-free policy, real-life examples of smoke-free policies, recommended steps, and frequently asked questions. You'll find the guide on this page at the HUD website along with smoke-free toolkits for PHAs and residents.