NYCHA Goes Smoke-Free
Initiative Promotes Healthier Homes and Workplaces

Smoke-free launch event
NYCHA launched its smoke-free initiative on July 30 at the American Cancer Society by bringing together NYCHA residents, staff, and health experts to discuss the new policy.

NYCHA developments are now smoke-free, a policy that provides healthier homes for residents and healthier working environments for employees.

The “Smoke-Free NYCHA” initiative was developed as part of a new U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule for public housing nationwide that prohibits smoking in apartments and buildings or within 25 feet of buildings.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., and secondhand smoke can trigger asthma attacks and lead to stroke, heart attack, cancer, and respiratory illness. Also, children and seniors, nearly half of all NYCHA residents, are often impacted the most.

The new rule allows NYCHA residents and staff to report violations; enforcement involves an informal and educational conversation about the smoking ban. NYCHA’s goal is not to terminate tenancy but to provide information and resources for residents who want to quit smoking.

“When we first learned of the new HUD rule requiring public housing to go smoke-free, we knew it was critical to engage our residents on the smoke-free conversation and what this will mean for their homes and public health overall in NYCHA communities,” said NYCHA Interim Chair and CEO Stanley Brezenoff. “As a public housing landlord, we are required to implement a smoke-free policy, but we will continue to talk to residents and work with our partners – like the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) – to support programs citywide that reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and expand access to resources for residents who want to quit smoking.”

NYCHA did extensive resident outreach after HUD announced the rule in February 2017, engaging over 21,000 residents in meetings, educational events, webinars, and other outreach forums. NYCHA staff partnered with DOHMH to provide educational materials to residents and promote programs that can help New Yorkers quit smoking, including the Health Department’s NYC HelpMeQuit app.

The Authority also created the NYCHA Advisory Group on Smoking and Health, which included residents, community-based partners, and health professionals, to guide NYCHA on the design of the smoke-free policy. The Advisory Group, in partnership with DOHMH and partner organizations, released a report on its findings that reviews the outreach campaign to residents and shares insights on the importance of health justice and how smoking bans will affect residents and promote more opportunities for New Yorkers to quit smoking citywide.

For more information, visit Smoke-Free NYCHA.

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