Wisconsin public housing residents offered free classes to help in quitting smoking
Lung association gives support, programs
All public housing throughout the U.S., including thousands of households in Wisconsin, will soon become smoke free.
And to help residents kick the habit, the American Lung Association is offering free support to smokers living in multi-unit public housing in the state.
The federal Housing and Urban Development rule takes effect July 31, forbidding cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs from being smoked in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing units. Electronic cigarettes will be allowed.
“Not all are happy about it. Some are happy about it,” said Ken Barbeau, director of community programs for the Milwaukee Housing Authority.
In Milwaukee, where roughly 7,500 residents live in around 4,100 housing units, officials have gotten the word out about the no-smoking change through mailings and resident council meetings.
“We inform them we’d love for people to quit smoking but you don’t have to quit smoking. Just no smoking in the buildings and 25 feet away from the buildings,” said Barbeau.
The American Lung Association is offering tobacco cessation programs through group sessions and online and phone support, which can normally cost around $100 per person. Funding for the program will be paid by the anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.
Smokers who want to stop get information to help them create a plan. A phone line staffed by registered nurses, respiratory therapists and tobacco cessation experts are available for smokers.
Quitting smoking “can take people multiple attempts, said Keri Schneider, senior manager of tobacco programs for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin. “We want to provide different opportunities for (public housing) residents, whether it’s an eight-session program, meeting roughly once a week, or through online, or meeting over the phone one time a week to help the person through the quit-smoking process.”
The American Lung Association estimates 17% of the American population uses tobacco products. The number of public housing residents who smoke is quite a bit higher, an estimated 40%.
Public housing residents in Milwaukee caught using tobacco products in their units after July 31 will have the incident treated like other lease violations.
“They won’t be evicted on the first violation but if it continues, we will. We hope to work with residents to make sure it doesn’t get to that point,” said Barbeau.
To learn about quitting smoking, contact the American Lung Association, (800) 586-4872 or visit Lung.org/ffs.