Smoke-free apartment buildings at the heart of a healthy New York

Posted Feb. 27, 2015 at 7:43 PM
The Telegram, Herkimer, N.Y.

UTICA – Two local housing authorities are giving residents the chance to live a smoke-free life.

The Dolgeville and Herkimer Housing Authorities have adopted smoke-free policies.

Residents are not allowed to smoke inside their apartments, which helps save money on unit renovations and protects the people in neighboring units from second-hand smoke.

“We received a thousand and one ÔÇÿthank yous’ from those that were affected by secondhand smoke, and ÔÇÿthank yous’ from the people who are trying to quit because we helped them move a step in the right direction,” said Richard Dow, Herkimer Housing Authority director, in a news release.

Frequent exposure to tobacco smoke has been found to nearly double the risk of having a heart attack and creates an unhealthy environment for children.

Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease, increasing the risk of stroke and the size of heart attacks when they occur.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year nearly 33 million nonsmokers in the U.S. may be exposed to secondhand smoke coming from other units and common areas.

Each year secondhand smoke causes more than 3,000 deaths in nonsmoking adults in New York state, most from heart disease and lung cancer.

Tobacco free apartment buildings save money in addition to many lives. According to the CDC, prohibiting smoking in subsidized housing alone would result in annual cost savings of nearly $125 million in New York state. Cost savings of $100 million would come from unneeded secondhand smoke-related healthcare.

“Smoking is one of the leading risk factors for coronary diseases and quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk of coronary diseases. It’s also critical that the state maintain dedicated funding to the Bureau of Tobacco Control so New Yorkers can get access to the tools they need to quit,” said Bob Elling, chair of the New York State Advocacy Committee of the American Heart Association, in a release.

“Smoking restrictions and smoke-free laws are an easy, affordable and cost effective way to prevent heart disease and create healthier communities,” said Sue Casanova, community engagement coordinator for the Bridges Tobacco Prevention Program of Herkimer, Oneida and Madison Counties, in a release. “When smoke-free polices are implemented, people find that they like them. In Herkimer County where two housing authorizes have gone smoke-free, 70 percent of adult residents surveyed in 2014 were in favor of a policy that prohibits smoking inside of multi-unit dwellings, showing that support has more than tripled over the past eight years.”

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