Study: Banning smoking in all U.S. subsidized housing would save $521 million annually

By James T. Mulder
Syracuse Post Standard, April 18, 2013

Syracuse, N.Y. — The estimated annual cost savings from eliminating smoking in all U.S. subsidized housing would be $521 million, according to a study from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is the first study to estimate the money that could be saved by prohibiting smoking in subsidized housing, including public housing and other rental assistance programs. The bulk of those annual savings , $341 million , would come from reduced health care expenditures related to secondhand smoke. The study also estimates savings of $108 million in annual renovation expenses and $72 million in annual smoking-related fire loses.

“Many of the more than 7 million Americans living in subsidized housing in the United States are children, the elderly or disabled,” Dr Tim McAfee of the CDC said in a prepared statement. “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.”

Studies have shown that people who live in apartment housing can be particularly affected by unwanted secondhand smoke exposure. Other studies have shown that most people who live in subsidized housing favor smoke-free policies.

The Greater Syracuse Tenants Network is encouraging owners of private rental housing units to consider going smoke-free. Adopting a smoke-free policy can reduce tenant conflicts, lower building maintenance costs, decrease fire risks and make it easier to rent apartments, according to the nonprofit.

That organization will hold a free workshop for landlords on smoke-free housing 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. April 30 at Park Central Presbyterian Church, 504 E. Fayette St., Syracuse. To register for the free workshop call 475-8092 or email

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