Making All Subsidized Housing Smoke-Free Could Save Almost $500 Million: Study

Banning smoking in government-subsidized housing could save almost $500 million a year in costs related to health care, renovations and smoking-related fire losses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a new report, the CDC said savings would include $310 million in health care costs related to secondhand smoke, $134 million in renovation costs and $53 million in smoking-related fire losses, HealthDay reports. Savings would range from $580,000 in Wyoming to $125 million in New York.

“This important study is further evidence that smoke-free policies are a win-win. They not only protect the public’s health, but also save significant sums of money,” Dr. Tim McAfee, Director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in an agency news release. “Prohibiting smoking in subsidized housing eliminates one of the leading disparities related to secondhand smoke exposure, as children, the elderly, the disabled and low-income Americans are disproportionately affected.”

Almost 7 million Americans live in government-subsidized multi-unit housing, the CDC notes. People who live in nonsmoking apartments in multi-unit housing can still be exposed to secondhand smoke through ventilation systems and windows. The U.S. Surgeon General says there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The government estimates as many as 40,000 people die as a result of secondhand smoke exposure annually.

“Already, over 500 public housing agencies have adopted some form of a smoke-free policy, protecting approximately 200,000 families,” said Matthew Ammon, Acting Director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes.

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