Making Smoke-free Housing Laws Strong – but Humane

As cities and counties move forward with smoke-free housing laws, a different public health concern often gets lost in the shuffle: how to make sure these new laws don’t put low-income residents at risk of losing their homes.
February 16, 2013, 9am PST | cspector
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When it comes to protecting people from secondhand smoke, we’ve reached what some are calling the final frontier – laws restricting smoking in apartments, condos, and other multi-unit housing.

But as more and more cities and counties move forward with smoke-free housing laws, Anne Pearson says another major public health concern often gets lost in the shuffle: how to make sure these new laws don’t put low-income residents at risk of losing their homes.

"Smoke-free housing laws should protect tenants not only from secondhand smoke but also from housing insecurity," she writes. The policies "shouldn't provide a fast track to eviction."

How can cities and counties be sure smoke-free housing policies take into consideration the potential health consequences for low-income residents who smoke?

Pearson offers several recommendations, including getting tenants' rights groups involved in the policymaking process, incorporating a gradual phase-in period for a new smoke-free housing policy, and providing access to support to help tenants quit smoking. 

"Smoke-free housing policies are a powerful way to protect people from the hazards of secondhand smoke," Pearson writes. "But it’s important to keep in mind the health consequences for people who will face challenges complying. Smoke-free housing policies should be strong, but they should also be humane." 

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Published on Monday, February 11, 2013 in HealthyCal.org
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