Because of the HUD smoke-free housing
rule, residents are just able to live
healthier lives and we were able to
create that environment for them.
The US Department of Public Housing and Urban
Development set a policy in place that
was scheduled for July 30th, 2018, and all
of the public housing authorities had to
be smoke-free at that date.
Kentucky is one of–has the highest rate of smokers in the United States.
efforts with the American Lung
Association and Mental Health America is
to improve the living conditions and
support the smoke-free HUD rule for
everybody, including people with
behavioral health conditions.
Folks who have a mental illness smoke at a higher rate.
They smoke more frequently than
others. Our low-income residents, a lot of
them have a lot of trauma in their lives
— aces as we say — adverse childhood events
in their lives. So we know that mental
health issues exist in that population
just by nature of them being in those
We were working
inside the Housing Authority trying to
help folks quit smoking, and encourage
people to understand mental health and
smoking and how those things interact together.
The American Lung Association
was able to provide resources, templates,
toolkits to the public housing
authorities to help them get the policy started.
We also were able to provide
cessation to the residents who were ready to quit.
When we went into the
residence in Louisville, one of the
things that we heard from them is a fear
about being targeted for a habit that
has been in their generations, you know.
They’ve had their grandparents grew
the tobacco and smoked it.
They were like ‘I feel targeted by this. I feel like it’s pointed at me.’
And even residents that don’t smoke felt like it
was targeting those folks that’s smoke.
So we need to bring a positive reason
for this happening, so the Lung
Association was able to provide talking
points for the managers to the residents
to explain why this was happening and
that it wasn’t a negative thing.
The rule is so important because secondhand smoke
is getting into all the units. So those
people who weren’t smoking we’re still
inhaling the 7,000 chemicals that are
found in secondhand smoke.
We know that smoke travels and a lot of
these places are high-rise buildings,
multi lit unit facilities that share air
from one place to the next.
There might be a kid in the next door of the
apartment. That kid’s getting harmed by
someone — their neighbor — smoking. When we
came in with education about secondhand
smoke, and even third hand smoke, and how
that can make a whole building sick we
really changed that narrative. We turned
it around, and it wasn’t targeting a
single person. It was investing in the
health of everyone who lives in those facilities.
The American Lung Association
had all this great information on
tobacco and smoking and how it affected
everyone around us.
We were able to add that mental health
expertise to hit this very specific population.
Partnering with Mental Health
America helped us to have more resources,
helped us to design more strategies and
just gave us a bigger voice.