Smoke-free sub­si­dized hous­ing would save $521 mil­lion a year

Wellness Update - - Health News -

AT­LANTA – The es­ti­mated an­nual cost sav­ings from elim­i­nat­ing smok­ing in all U.S. sub­si­dized hous­ing would be $521 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a new study from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion. This is the first study to es­ti­mate the costs that could be saved by pro­hibit­ing smok­ing in sub­si­dized hous­ing, in­clud­ing pub­lic hous­ing and other rental as­sis­tance pro­grams. The bulk of those an­nual sav­ings – $341 mil­lion – would come from re­duced health care ex­pen­di­tures re­lated to sec­ond­hand smoke. The study also es­ti­mates sav­ings of $108 mil­lion in an­nual ren­o­va­tion ex­penses and $72 mil­lion in an­nual smok­ing-re­lated fire loses. “Many of the more than 7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans liv­ing in sub­si­dized hous­ing in the United States are chil­dren, the el­derly or dis­abled,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., di­rec­tor of the Of­fice on Smok­ing and Health at CDC. “Th­ese are peo­ple who are most sen­si­tive to be­ing ex­posed to sec­ond­hand smoke. This re­port shows that there are sub­stan­tial fi­nan­cial ben­e­fits to im­ple­ment­ing smoke-free poli­cies, in ad­di­tion to the health ben­e­fits those poli­cies bring.” The study also es­ti­mated the cost sav­ings as­so­ci­ated with pro­hibit­ing smok­ing in all U.S. pub­lic hous­ing, which is a por­tion of sub­si­dized hous­ing man­aged by pub­lic hous­ing au­thor­i­ties. The to­tal an­nual sav­ings for pub­lic hous­ing would be about $154 mil­lion a year, in­clud­ing $101 mil­lion from health care costs re­lated to sec­ond­hand smoke ex­po­sure, $32 mil­lion from ren­o­va­tion ex­penses, and $21 mil­lion from smok­ing-at­trib­ut­able fire losses. Stud­ies have shown that peo­ple who live in mul­tiu­nit hous­ing can be par­tic­u­larly af­fected by un­wanted sec­ond­hand smoke ex­po­sure. Other stud­ies have shown that most peo­ple who live in sub­si­dized hous­ing fa­vor smoke-free poli­cies. “Sec­ond­hand smoke en­ters nearby apart­ments from com­mon ar­eas and apart­ments where smok­ing is oc­cur­ring,” said Brian King Ph.D., an epi­demi­ol­o­gist with CDC’s Of­fice on Smok­ing and Health and lead author of the re­port. “Open­ing win­dows and in­stalling ven­ti­la­tion sys­tems will not fully elim­i­nate ex­po­sure to sec­ond­hand smoke. Im­ple­ment­ing smoke-free poli­cies in all ar­eas is the most ef­fec­tive way to fully pro­tect all res­i­dents, vis­i­tors, and em­ploy­ees from the harm­ful ef­fects of

sec­ond­hand smoke.” Sec­ond­hand smoke is re­spon­si­ble for about 50,000 deaths a year in the United States. The 2006 Sur­geon Gen­eral’s Re­port, The Health Con­se­quences of In­vol­un­tary Ex­po­sure to To­bacco Smoke, con­cluded that sec­ond­hand smoke is also known to cause nu­mer­ous health prob­lems in in­fants and chil­dren, in­clud­ing more fre­quent and se­vere asthma at­tacks, res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, ear in­fec­tions, and sud­den in­fant death syn­drome. In the same re­port, the Sur­geon Gen­eral con­cluded that there is no safe level of ex­po­sure to sec­ond­hand smoke, and that only 100 per­cent smoke-free in­door poli­cies can fully pro­tect peo­ple from sec­ond­hand smoke dangers.

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