California Families Living in Public Housing Now Protected from Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Sacramento, CA (July 30, 2018) – Secondhand smoke is a serious health threat, and can linger in rooms and even travel between homes in multi-unit housing. There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and now California residents in public housing are protected by a new smokefree housing rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that goes into effect today.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to lead a healthy life, and ensuring homes are free from the risks of secondhand smoke is a critical step for the health of residents,” said Lindsey Freitas, Senior Director, Advocacy for the American Lung Association in California. “This is especially true for children and those who are more vulnerable to the impact of secondhand smoke, such as those living with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Today we’re making a healthier future for California and our nation.”

In November 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a rule requiring all federally-owned public housing to become smokefree by July 30, 2018. This rule will protect close to two million Americans nationwide from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their homes, including 690,000 children.

Secondhand smoke exposure poses serious health threats to both children and adults. Damaging health effects in children and adults include lung cancer, respiratory infections, worsened asthma symptoms, heart attacks and stroke. For residents of multi-unit housing like apartment buildings and condominiums, secondhand smoke can be a major concern as smoke can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems.

For that reason, the American Lung Association urges all local communities to pass their own smokefree multi-unit housing policies to protect all multi-unit housing residents, not just those in public housing. Just 99 of California’s 540 cities and counties tracked in the Lung Association’s annual State of Tobacco Control report have policies in place.

“All residents living in apartments and condos should be able to breathe clean air in their own homes,” Freitas said.

To speak to an expert about smokefree multi-unit housing, please contact Ryan Endean with the American Lung Association at or 916-585-7666. More information is also available at

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