FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 30, 2018
NYC PUBLIC HOUSING IS NOW SMOKE-FREE
Effective today, NYCHA, in enforcement of a new HUD rule, will no longer allow the smoking of tobacco products inside public housing apartments, in all indoor common areas, and within 25 feet of public housing buildings.
NEW YORK – The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced today the launch of Smoke-Free NYCHA, the Authority’s comprehensive smoke-free policy that will provide healthier homes to public housing residents and healthier working environments for employees. Effective today, Smoke-Free NYCHA – part of a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule for smoke-free public housing nationwide – prohibits smoking in any New York City public housing apartment or building or within 25 feet of the building.
“When we first learned of the new HUD rule requiring public housing to go smoke-free, we knew it was critical to engage our residents on the smoke-free conversation and what this will mean for their homes and public health overall in NYCHA communities,” said NYCHA Interim Chair and CEO Stanley Brezenoff. “As a public housing landlord, we are required to implement a smoke-free policy, but we will continue to talk to residents and work with our partners – like the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene – to support programs city-wide that reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and expand access to resources for residents who want to quit smoking.”
“The Health Department is proud to work with NYCHA on Smoke-Free NYCHA through engagement, education, and connections to resources for residents who want to quit smoking,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Through programs such as our Harlem Health Advocacy Partners, who are leading the Freedom from Smoking program for residents of Clinton Houses, Johnson Houses, King Towers, Lehman Village, and Taft Houses, and our ongoing support of NYCHA’s Health Initiatives Unit, we are committed to the long-term work of helping NYCHA residents go smoke-free along with their buildings.”
Approximately 18 months ago, HUD’s proposed smoke-free rule required the more than 3,100 public housing agencies nationwide to implement smoke-free policies in their developments by July 30, 2018. Also, in accordance with HUD guidelines, all NYCHA families received notice of planned lease changes in January 2018 and a lease addendum in spring 2018. The new rule allows NYCHA staff and residents to report violations; enforcement will include an informal conversation to discuss the smoking ban along with the provision of educational materials. NYCHA’s goal is to not terminate tenancy but to provide information and expand access to resources should residents want to quit smoking.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks and lead to stroke, heart attack, cancer, and respiratory illness. Also, children and seniors, nearly half of all NYCHA residents, are often impacted the most. At NYCHA, smoking is already prohibited in indoor common areas such as lobbies, hallways, stairwells, and elevators as well as in management offices.
NYCHA has undertaken extensive resident outreach since the rule was first announced, engaging over 21,000 residents in meetings, educational events, webinars, and other outreach forums. In partnership with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the two agencies have provided educational materials and heavily promoted available cessation programs and the Health Department’s NYC HelpMeQuit app.
The Authority also convened the NYCHA Advisory Group on Smoking and Health, which included residents, community-based partners, and health professionals, to provide guidance to NYCHA on policy formation. The Advisory Group, in conjunction with DOHMH and partner organizations, released a report today as part of the launch of the new rule on its findings over the past two years. The report reviews the extensive outreach campaign to NYCHA residents and communities and shares insights on the importance of health equity and how the prohibition of smoking tobacco products will affect residents and citywide efforts to promote and offer wider cessation opportunities.
“We applaud NYCHA for its efforts to ensure that implementation of the smoke-free rule is successful,” said Michael Davoli, Director, New York Metro Government Relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in New York City, including cancer deaths, and we owe it to the residents of public housing to do all that we can to help them quit. History shows that reducing the places where people are allowed to smoke will result in a reduction in smoking rates. Smoke-Free NYCHA continues New York City’s long history of leadership in the fight against smoking.”
“The implementation of Smoke-Free NYCHA is a significant accomplishment, and we are proud to have been part of this important process,” said Deidre Sully, Director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions. “NYCHA residents will no longer be subject to the harmful effects that secondhand smoke has on their families, and residents can finally breathe easy in their own homes. We remain steadfast in our commitment to eliminating the tobacco epidemic in New York City.”
“This landmark policy will create healthier homes, motivate smokers to quit, and save lives,” said Dr. Donna Shelley, Professor of Medicine and Population Health and Co-Director, Section on Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Use at New York University School of Medicine.
“Prosper Digital TV is proud to have been a part of this important documentary and hopes this project will assist NYCHA residents in better understanding the new policy,” said Joanes Prosper, Founder and President of Prosper Digital TV.
About the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)
NYCHA’s mission is to increase opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers by providing safe, affordable housing and facilitating access to social and community services. Almost 400,000 New Yorkers reside in NYCHA’s 325 public housing developments around the five boroughs, and another 235,000 receive subsidized rental assistance in private homes through the NYCHA-administered Section 8 Leased Housing Program. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/nycha, and for regular updates on NYCHA news and services, connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCHA and www.twitter.com/NYCHA.