Smoke-free Living Opportunities Grow in Douglas County
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Great American Smokeout is Nov. 15. To mark the occasion, when people are encouraged to consider giving up smoking, the Douglas County Health Department is calling attention to some local efforts that are helping hundreds of families to live healthier, smoke-free lives.
As success builds on success, new properties are being added to the list of smoke-free living options for families at local public housing agencies.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† More than 1,400 housing units in the 11 towers managed by the Omaha Housing Authority are smoke-free, and by Dec. 1 another 215 units will be made available to provide additional healthy living options. Family developments and scattered-site housing could follow in the coming year, potentially tripling the number of smoke-free units and providing 100 percent smoke-free living.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ‚ÄúThe concept of smoke-free living has worked so well, we are expanding it,‚ÄĚ said OHA‚Äôs Gail Sayers-Proby.¬† ‚ÄúWe want more of our residents to enjoy the benefits of smoke-free living.‚ÄĚ
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Bayview Apartments, Farnam Apartments, Securities Apartments, Cherry Tree Apartments, Alamo Apartments, and Ernie Chambers Court have been selected as the next OHA units to receive the smoke-free designation, Dec. 1.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† While OHA has the most smoke-free public housing units, the agency is not alone.¬† In 2007, the Douglas County Housing Authority started its move toward smoke-free living. The policy, which affects 297 units, has been fully in place since January.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Four major reasons for the move have been cited by the agencies.
1.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Health¬† benefits for residents and employees
2.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Reduced costs in preparing units for turnover to new tenants
3.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Support for residents who want to stop smoking
4.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† To respond to residents who expressed concerns about secondhand smoke
‚ÄúThe change to smoke-free living has been a tremendous benefit to our residents,‚ÄĚ said Joan Bertolini, CEO of the Douglas County Housing Authority. ‚ÄúSecondhand smoke is a killer that finds its way from room to room and makes people sick, including children.‚ÄĚ
In fact, studies show that every year secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 deaths from lung cancer and 22,700 to 69,600 deaths from heart disease.
‚ÄúStudies have shown that secondhand smoke is especially dangerous to children, whose bodies are still growing,‚ÄĚ said Douglas County Health Director, Dr. Adi Pour.
¬†Secondhand smoke contributes to 430 sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) deaths annually in the United States, and increases the risk children will develop bronchitis and pneumonia.
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† The Douglas County Health Department and MOTAC (Metro Omaha Tobacco Action Coalition), are working to help privately owned properties convert to a smoke-free policy. That includes technical assistance and materials to help with the policy from initiation to completion. The Health Department also can assist with compliance and maintenance of the program.