(Philadelphia, PA - February 02, 2017) - A recently completed
scientific study found that the Philadelphia Housing Authority
(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. The
study confirms that smoke-free policies are more effective in
reducing secondhand smoke exposures for both smoking and
non-smoking residents. The data generated by the study makes
PHA the only housing authority in the nation with objective
evidence showing the effectiveness of smoke-free policy. The
locations for the study were chosen based on survey data and the
concentrations of vulnerable populations of children and seniors.
Passive air monitors measured nicotine levels for 7 to 14 days at
Wilson Park, Fairhill Apartments, Bentley Hall, and West Park
Apartments. A team from Drexel University's Dornsife School of
Public Health conducted three waves of data collection: summer/fall
2013, late spring 2014, and early spring 2016.
Nicotine levels were measured inside the homes of residents who
do not allow smoking in their residence and in common areas, such
as entrances, stairwells, elevators, laundry rooms, and hallways.
This technique allowed for the comparison of second-hand smoke
levels before and after the smoke-free policy became effective on
August 5, 2015. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore
analyzed the samples collected by the Drexel team.
"Based on these initial results, we are very happy that
the smoke-free policy is reducing secondhand smoke levels at each
of these locations," said PHA's President and CEO Kelvin A.
Jeremiah. "Most of us are aware of the harmful effects secondhand
smoke can cause or worsen, like asthma, emphysema, heart disease,
and cancer. That's why PHA is committed to working collaboratively
with our residents to ensure healthy smoke-free homes. "
Secondhand smoke seeps and drifts from a smoker's residence to
other units and common areas. Up to 60% of the air in multifamily
homes can come from other units. The results suggest that the new
policy has not eliminated secondhand smoke in homes or public
areas, but that the amount of airborne nicotine, on average, is
significantly less than the amount detected before the policy took
effect. The smoke-free policy adopted by the PHA Board has a unique
two-pronged approach to enforcement for new and existing homes. One
section of the policy applies to residents with leases at existing
units before the policy took effect on August 5, 2015. The other
applies only to homes that are new construction or substantially
rehabilitated, for residents entering into leases on or after the
start date of the policy.
At existing units, Notices of Violation can be issued, with
emphasis on the availability of smoking cessation programs.
Eviction will never be a consequence under this part of the policy.
Residents who entered into leases on or after August 5, 2015 at new
units or substantially rehabilitated units (where PHA has made a
major financial investment) may face possible lease termination
after the fourth violation of the smoking policy. The policy also
allows for one violation to be erased. In each instance, violators
will receive informational materials and support top help the try
to kick the smoking habit. So far, no Notices of Violation have
The full study, "SHS Exposure and Smoke-Free Policy in
Philadelphia Public Housing," will be published in Tobacco
Regulatory Science's April issue.