The Springfield Housing Authority Is Going Smoke-Free
The Springfield Housing Authority is going smoke-free, under a phased-in program that will begin in April 2012, and will be complete in April 2013, prohibiting smoking at all authority properties in the city.
SHA Executive Director William H. Abrashkin announced the new policy recently, following a unanimous vote in March by the Board of Commissioners. “By now it is firmly established that second-hand smoke is one of the major public health problems in America. Second-hand smoke causes cancer, respiratory, and heart disease and it is a major trigger for allergies and asthma, among other health problems,” Abrashkin said. “There is no safe level of second-hand smoke. How can a public housing authority claim to have a drug-free environment for its residents when it freely allows the most dangerous drug of all, tobacco, on its premises,” he asked.
Abrashkin said the new regulation will apply to all inside residences and workplaces beginning April 1, 2012. One year later, on April 1, 2013, the entire SHA, both indoors and outdoors, will be smoke-free.
In the meantime, the 170 employees and the residents of the nearly 2,400 units across the city will have access to smoking cessation programs and literature. Abrashkin said the move is aimed at more than health issues.
“Smoking is a leading cause of fires and fire fatalities in residential premises. It costs the public four times as much to turn around a unit in which a smoker has lived. We want to put our children first. Tobacco is the number one gateway drug for children. Our children deserve the opportunity to grow up in a wholesome environment to protect both their physical and psychological health,” he said. “Most of all, we are listening to the voices of our residents; in a poll taken before this policy was adopted, the overwhelming majority were in favor of a smoke-free environment. People who are more affluent can afford to choose to live in smoke-free housing; public housing residents should not be treated as second-class citizens, condemned to breathe second hand smoke, just because they do not have the means to live elsewhere,” he said.
The Boston Housing Authority announced a similar smoking ban recently.