The Great American Smoke-out is Nov. 17. So what’s new in tobacco prevention?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed all public housing authorities implement smoke-free policies. An increasing number of multi-unit residential buildings are adopting a smoke-free policy, and this includes Sheboygan.
The new policy has been created and is open for public comment on all Sheboygan Housing Authority buildings to go smoke-free starting June 1, 2017. Many other Wisconsin communities, such as Green Bay and Beloit, have implemented policies for their public housing properties.
Secondhand smoke contains more than 70 substances known to cause cancer. It is estimated that one in three nonsmokers in rental housing is exposed to secondhand smoke, and children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to have colds, ear infections and upper respiratory infections.
Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to protect nonsmokers from exposure.
Property owners have the right to make their buildings smoke-free. Residents have the right to ask for safer, smokefree housing, and many Wisconsinites already support this proposal. This protects residents.
Smoking is already prohibited in housing common areas, such as entrances, laundry rooms and basements. Smokefree housing policies just extend that protection. Economic benefits exist for smoke-free units as well; cleaning and turnover costs are two to three times higher for a smoked-in unit.
Our community Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 coalition supports the implementation of the HUD mandate, and we have focused on building partnerships with Sheboygan Housing Authority to serve those populations hit hardest by tobacco. We reached out by providing community education on the dangers of tobacco, and provided tobacco cessation information about quit line services to residents at local HUD housing complexes. More than 200,000 people have been helped by the quit line since 2001, according to the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.
This outreach included helping train local “freedom from smoking” facilitators and brainstorming strategies to educate tenants, and then implementing those strategies. We will continue to update and evaluate these as we prepare for the HUD changes next summer. These include additional tenant and property education and offering classes for cessation options.
Smoke-free housing can:
» Help smokers quit. Adult smoking rates in Wisconsin have dropped to an all-time low of 17 percent.
» Improve the overall health of all residents. Dropping the adult smoking rate from 20 to 17 percent saved Wisconsin an estimated $1.4 billion in health care costs.
Don’t let tobacco beat you. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW. Individuals who smoke can call the quit line to receive support 24 hours a day and seven days a week, including:
» Free personalized telephone coaching;
» Two weeks of quitsmoking medication; and
» Referrals to quitsmoking resources and services in the area.
Call the 1-800-QUIT NOW line or visit wismoke freehousing.com to learn about making your building smoke-free.
If you would like more information about tobacco prevention education in our community, contact Liz Abler at 920-4593038, send email to public.health@sheboygan county.com, or visit the Healthy Sheboygan County website at healthysheboygan county.org.
Liz Abler, RN, is a Sheboygan County Public Health Nurse and member of the Mental Health/ Substance Abuse Committee.