Smoke free public housing in RI: 16 of 25 authorities have implemented bans

Published : Wednesday, 19 Dec 2012, 11:56 AM EST
Providence, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Department of Health has recognized 16 of the state’s 25 public housing authorities for implementing smoking bans in their units.

The Dept. of Health calls this an important step in combating potential exposures to second-hand smoke that were highlighted in a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 16 public housing authorities that have implemented bans include Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Cranston, Cumberland, Lincoln, Newport, Portsmouth, Providence, Smithfield, South Kingstown, Warren, Warwick, West Warwick, Westerly, and Woonsocket.

An estimated 27 to 29 million Americans living in multi-unit housing are exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke in their homes, even though they don’t allow smoking in their own homes, according to a new study released by the CDC.

The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, is the first to report national and state estimates of the number of multi-unit housing residents who are exposed to second-hand smoke that entered their homes from somewhere else in or around their buildings.

“I congratulate all of the public housing authorities that have passed smoke-free policies in their facilities,” said Michael Fine, MD, director of HEALTH. “There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. Adopting such policies shows leadership that not only translates into a healthier environment for tenants and staff, but also sets an example for other multi-unit housing agencies throughout the state.”

The CDC study found that of the 79.2 million people in the U.S. who live in multi-unit housing, about 62.7 million don’t allow smoking in their home.

In Rhode Island, approximately 374,942 individuals live in multi-unit housing, with an estimated 128,000 to 135,000 potentially exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke that originated from somewhere else in or around their buildings.

Separating smokers from non-smokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposure of non-smokers to second-hand smoke.

Each year, second-hand smoke is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths in the United States.

HEALTH launched earlier this year to serve as a resource for public and private housing authorities, property owners, and tenants who are interested in smoke-free policy adoption. More than half of the state’s public housing authorities have already taken advantage of these resources.

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