The Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement (COE for HSI) Prepares for August 1st Smoke-Free Public Housing Launch

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New York, NY - Residents living in federally-funded public housing need our support now more than ever to comply with a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ruling. On August 1, 2018, HUD will require that all local public housing authorities implement a smoke-free policy. Although the HUD ruling does not require residents to be non-smokers, it does prohibit the use of combustible tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars, and cigarillos) anywhere inside or within 25 feet of HUD-funded buildings.  

 The plan significantly impacts all NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants, as well as other local housing authorities statewide including those in Albany, Buffalo, and Yonkers. According to the NYCHA 2017 Fact Sheet, NYCHA is the largest public housing authority in North America with 176,066 public housing apartments in 2,462 buildings in 326 developments throughout the five boroughs.  590,216 New Yorkers are served by NYCHA housing.

 Maintaining safe and affordable housing is an important social determinant of health, and the loss of one’s housing leads to increased risk of health problems. To prevent residents of Public Housing who are smokers from potentially losing their housing, the Center of Excellence for Health Systems Improvement for Tobacco-Free NY (COE for HSI) is working alongside ten Regional Health Systems Improvement Grantees throughout NYS to make sure healthcare providers, who are in a position to screen and arrange for treatment of tobacco use, are aware of the ruling. This includes continuing to work with healthcare providers to ensure that they have systems in place to screen patients and to help them quit. In addition, it is important that current smokers living in HUD housing know that help is available and that their healthcare providers can assist them in quitting, and that the assistance is covered by Medicaid and most private insurers.

In addition to their current work as the COE for HSI, CAI served as the tobacco control training center for New York State for ten years —delivering customized trainings to Regional Grantees of the New York State Bureau of Tobacco Control. In a state where more than 28,000 adults die every year due to smoking, CAI trainings have helped New York achieve its goal of reducing the prevalence of cigarette use among adults and adolescents.

 For more information about the HUD Housing ruling, or if you are a healthcare provider seeking support on how to better assist public housing residents with this change, please contact the COE for HSI Project Director at mgraziano@caiglobal.org.