Banning Smoking in Subsidized Housing Could Save Over $500 Million Annually

Banning smoking in public housing and units covered by rental assistance programs could save $521 million annually, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Much of the savings—$341 million—would come from reductions in healthcare costs related to secondhand smoke, HealthDay reports. The CDC also estimated savings of $108 million in annual renovation costs and $72 million in smoking-related fire losses.

“Many of the more than 7 million Americans living in subsidized housing in the United States are children, the elderly or disabled,” Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, Director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health said in a news release. “These are people who are most sensitive to being exposed to secondhand smoke. This report shows that there are substantial financial benefits to implementing smoke-free policies, in addition to the health benefits those policies bring.”

As of January 2012, more than 250 public housing authorities had become smoke free, according to the CDC. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has encouraged public housing authorities and owners and managers of multi-family housing rental assistance programs to adopt such policies. Overall, only a small percentage of public housing authorities have smoke-free policies.

“This new study reinforces the importance of the Housing and Urban Development initiative to promote the adoption of smoke-free housing policies in public housing and other federally-assisted multifamily housing,” said Sandra Henriquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing. “We have seen considerable momentum in the number of public housing agencies across the country adopting this policy, which saves health and housing costs, in places like Boston, San Antonio, Seattle, and all public housing in the state of Maine.”

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