Washington – First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, today applauded the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s proposal to require that all public housing be smokefree.

The proposal would protect an estimated 760,000 children from exposure to secondhand smoke. It would apply to public housing, but not all government subsidized housing, such as private rentals that accept vouchers. It would not apply to e-cigarettes or other novelty tobacco products.

Asthma is the most common chronic condition among children in the United States, and secondhand smoke is one of the most significant contributors to the disease. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that secondhand smoke worsens the symptoms of up to one million children each year.  African-American, Puerto Rican, and Hispanic children experience the highest rates of asthma.

The measure is expected to save $153 million per year in healthcare and housing costs.

In response to HUD’s proposed rule, First Focus president Bruce Lesley made the following statement:

“We applaud the housing department’s leadership in protecting hundreds of thousands of children living in public housing from secondhand smoke. It is unacceptable that two out of five children in America are exposed to secondhand smoke, especially when asthma is the most common childhood disease. By stopping the creep of secondhand smoke through doors and cracks into the lungs of our kids, HUD’s proposal saves lives and money. Making public housing smokefree is simply the right thing to do by our children.”

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First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.org