PHA Recognized with Health Leadership Award for Smoke-Free Policy

Smoke Free Award

Arizonans Concerned About Smoking (ACAS) and the Arizona Smoke-Free Living Coalition have recognized the Philadelphia Housing Authority as a national leader in the effort to provide a healthy and safe smoke-free living environment. The group conferred its Tobacco Control Health Leadership Award on the agency for taking action years before the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) came out with a mandate for all housing authorities this past February. PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah (lef

(Philadelphia, PA - May 25, 2017) - The Philadelphia Housing Authority has been recognized as a national leader in the effort to provide a healthy and safe smoke-free living environment by Arizonans Concerned About Smoking (ACAS) and the Arizona Smoke-Free Living Coalition.

"We are deeply honored to receive this recognition from a group long known for its commitment to a healthier living environment," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah. "We have the firm belief that our smoke free policy will pay dividends over time, especially when it comes to the health of our residents. People who are healthy are able to lead full, productive, happy lives."

The PHA board adopted a smoke free policy that became effective in early August 2015 for health, maintenance, and safety reasons. The policy was the result of an effort that began in September 2012 when the housing authority joined the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) on its citywide "Get Healthy Philly" initiative.

ACAS conferred its Tobacco Control Health Leadership Award on PHA for taking action years before the U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) came out with a mandate for all housing authorities in February. The group noted that PHA is the largest housing authority to adopt a smoke-free policy. ACAS is a 501(c) (3) and has been incorporated since 1977.  The group's founder, Betty Carnes, is credited with originating the slogan, "Thank You for Not Smoking."

"The Philadelphia Housing Authority has been a national leader in the effort to provide a healthy and safe smoke-free living amenity to its residents years before they were required to do so," said Philip J Carpenter, Executive Director of Arizonans Concerned About Smoking. "PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah made the bold decision to transition all PHA properties to 'smoke-free' by August 5th, 2015.  This was two years before they had to due to the HUD Final Ruling.

"Their enactment of the smoke-free policy before being required to, demonstrates national role-model leadership on a far-reaching tobacco control concern," he added. "They have certainly demonstrated that and therefore are now making a healthy and significant difference on 80,000 Philadelphia Housing Authority residents every day."

A recently completed scientific study found that the PHA smoke-free policy improves air quality at public housing developments.  The study conducted by scientists from Drexel and Johns Hopkins Universities showed that the average amount of detectable levels of nicotine in the air at four test sites was reduced almost in half.  Inside non-smoking residents' homes, trends toward reduced nicotine exposures were also seen. 

ACAS and the Arizona Smoke-Free Living Coalition noted that the transitions under the new policy are not easy, and take extensive planning and coordination with residents and resident leadership, plus coordination with public health and cessation resources. The group believes that no one should have to choose between their health and their job.