Ordinance moving tenants toward smoke-free living

As we start a favorite month in Wisconsin, we are reminded that this is the seventh year our state celebrates the Smoke Free Air Bill passage of July 5, 2010. In June we celebrated Healthy Homes Month, which is sponsored by U.S. Department of Housing And Urban Development (HUD). The observance focuses on raising awareness of housing’s impact on health and providing ways for families to protect themselves from hazards in the home.

Smoking in the home is one hazard that’s sadly all too common in Wisconsin. According to the YBRS (Youth Behavior Risk Survey), a fifth of Wisconsin high school students reported living in homes where others smoke. Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Each year, approximately 443,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses. For every person who dies from tobacco use, 20 more people suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness. In addition, tobacco use costs the U.S. $193 billion annually in direct medical expenses and lost productivity. Not smoking in the home improves the health of those that live with you, but in the case of multi-unit housing, also protects other residents in the building. HUD recently finalized a smokefree rule. The rule, which took effect in February, requires all public housing authorities (PHAS) to establish smoke-free rules by Aug. 2018. In the City of Sheboygan, recent implementation of an ordinance restricting smoking in multi–unit low-income housing will provide health benefits for many of those residents.

Secondhand smoke is not just limited to the unit in which it occurs -- it travels across units. The rule is expected to help the health of more than 2 million public housing residents, including 76,000 children. It’s estimated to save $153 million annually in health care, home repair and fire costs.

We have been working on education for tenants surrounding this new smoke-free rule and smoke-free housing. If you need further information please contact the Public Health Department.

Tobacco use can lead to tobacco/nicotine dependence and serious health problems. Quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of developing smoking-related diseases. Tobacco/nicotine dependence is a condition that often requires repeated quit attempts, but there are helpful treatments and resources for quitting. Smokers can and do quit smoking. In fact, today there are more former smokers than current smokers.

The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line provides free quitting assistance for all tobacco users ready to quit. Please call the Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW.

Elizabeth Abler R.N. is a Public Health Nurse and a member of the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Mental Health and Substance Abuse committee.