Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority to go Smoke Free!

Next year, all 2,057 units of the Kansas City, Kansas Housing Authority will be smoke-free, and Healthy Communities Wyandotte will be helping with the transition.

"We know that it's going to be a really positive change for the community because people will be exposed to less second-hand smoke," said Rebecca Garza, program coordinator for Tobacco-Free Wyandotte. "This is a really significant boost for our community's efforts to reduce its high smoking rate. As it stands, nearly a quarter of Wyandotte County residents smoke, exposing themselves to the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. and Kansas."

Garza stressed that the Housing Authority's new policy will save money and lives. The cost of cleaning an apartment that has been smoked in, for example, is three times that of cleaning one that hasn't. And, of course, with no smoking comes a significant reduction in fire risk.

Earlier this year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development mandated that all Housing Authorities go smoke-free by July 2018. But the KCK Housing Authority has accelerated its efforts and will be implementing the new policy on January 1, 2018, due in part to help that HCW and the Unified Government Public Health Department are offering with the transition.

Rebecca said that the Housing Authority and HCW are applying for a grant to devote more resources to the transition. Communication with the Housing Authority's 3,000 residents has already begun; letters have been sent and signs that will appear in December will be purchased with an HCW grant. "We know it's going to be a really difficult change for the residents who smoke because they're not only addicted to tobacco but are also used to smoking indoors," she said. The smoke-free policy does not require residents who smoke to quit. However, HCW is reaching out to those who express a desire to quit and offering to connect them with agencies that can help. Agencies that want to participate in this effort should contact Rebecca.