Smoking ban at public housing would save millions in health costs

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 29, 2013

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Prohibiting smoking in all U.S. subsidized housing would lead to cost savings of about $521 million a year, said a study posted online April 16 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The bulk of those savings ($341 million) would come from reduced health care expenditures related to secondhand smoke, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study said. The savings include $108 million in property renovation expenses due to damage by tobacco smoke and $72 million in annual smoking-related fire loses (link).

Studies have shown that people who live in multiunit housing can be affected negatively by tobacco smoke that migrates through the building’s walls and ventilation systems. The American Medical Association House of Delegates adopted policy in 2010 that recommends prohibiting smoking in such buildings.

As of January 2012, more than 250 public housing authorities had gone smoke-free, the CDC said. But that represents only a small percentage of the nation’s total number of such government agencies.

For the CDC study, researchers used data from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to estimate annual cost savings associated with prohibiting smoking in subsidized housing.

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