FINAL COMMENTS TO HUD ON SMOKE-FREE PUBLIC HOUSING
Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Posted by: Natalia Gromov
This morning, NAQC submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that are strongly supportive of HUD’s proposal to implement a national smoke-free rule for public housing authorities (PHAs). Our draft comments were strengthened by the feedback we received from many of you – thank you!
Research has demonstrated that smoke-free housing has a significant, positive impact on the quality of indoor air, reduces the risk of catastrophic fires and reduces the cost of maintenance of housing units. Although not a goal of the HUD proposal, NAQC hopes that the proposed smoke-free rule also will encourage many residents to quit smoking, thereby improving their health for years to come.
Key messages and recommendations included in NAQC comments:
NAQC’s comments focused on cessation issues. We also signed on to a broader scope of comments that were developed by our national partners. In the February issue of Connections, we will share a link to all of the comments we were involved in submitting.
- NAQC estimates that one-third of all PHA residents (i.e., 400,000 adults) are smokers. If no action is taken, their continued smoking is likely to result in poorer general health than non-smoking PHA residents, development of tobacco-related diseases, considerable healthcare and other costs, and the loss of 4 million years of life due to premature deaths from tobacco-related diseases.
- NAQC recommends that housing authorities coordinate with healthcare organizations that serve PHA residents and local cessation treatment providers (such as quitlines) as soon as possible to make residents aware of available smoking cessation resources and encourage them to quit. By beginning to lower the smoking prevalence among PHA residents before the smoke-free rule takes effect, fewer barriers will be encountered during implementation and enforcement. In addition, by making PHA residents aware of effective cessation resources, HUD will be facilitating successful quit attempts among its residents. Cessation resources should continue to be made available throughout implementation and enforcement of the smoke-free rule.
- To maximize the impact of the smoke-free rule on successful quit attempts, NAQC recommends that HUD make effective smoking cessation treatments, as described in the U.S. Clinical Practice Guideline, available to PHA residents. These treatments encompass the range of treatment preferences expressed by smokers residing in the PHAs (i.e., quitlines, in-person counseling and FDA-approved cessation medications).
- To prevent implementation challenges and to gain the most benefit possible for PHA residents from the smoke-free rule, NAQC recommends HUD make a concerted effort to partner with cessation providers and healthcare organizations to ensure the availability of adequate levels of cessation treatment. HUD may want to pursue partnerships with state quitlines, quitline service providers, and healthcare organizations that are affiliated with state Medicaid programs and Federally Qualified Health Centers.
Linda A. Bailey, JD, MHS
President and CEO
North American Quitline Consortium