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MDHA to Make Parthenon Towers Smoke-free Facility | 2011-02-28

New Pilot Policy Begins May 1; Residents Offered Help to Quit Smoking
 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – In an effort to improve the health of all residents, the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency will make the Parthenon Towers high rise in west Nashville the agency’s first smoke-free community housing facility beginning May 1, 2011. Common areas within the building are already smoke-free. Under the new pilot policy, new tenants will be required to use a designated smoking area and will not be allowed to smoke inside individual apartments.
 
“Research has clearly shown that in high rise residential buildings smoking poses serious health risks not only for the smokers themselves, but also for the people around them who breathe-in second-hand smoke,” said MDHA Executive Director Phil Ryan. “Making Parthenon Towers a smoke-free facility is a good, common sense policy that will benefit the health of all residents. We plan to expand this policy to our other community properties in the future.”
 
According to a June 2010 report in the New England Journal of Medicine [1], a resident who smokes in a single unit within a multiunit residential building puts the residents of the other units at risk because tobacco smoke can move along air ducts, through cracks in the walls and floors, through elevator shafts, and along plumbing and electrical lines to affect units on other floors.
 
The Residents’ Association for Parthenon Towers recently voted to support MDHA’s efforts to make the high rise tower a smoke-free facility.
 
“The Residents’ Association of Parthenon Towers endorses the smoke-free facility policy,” said Parthenon Towers Resident Association President Peach Ella Whitfield. “Secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone and we would like for all residents to be healthier, by not only cutting back or quitting smoking altogether, but by also watching our diets and exercising more.”
 
The pilot policy will next go before MDHA’s Board of Commissioner’s for approval. The policy change is supported by the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Agency who, in July 2009, issued a memorandum[2] strongly encouraging Public Housing Authorities to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units.
 
Secondhand smoke is identified by the Centers for Disease Control, Surgeon General and Environmental Protection Agency as a serious health hazard. The Surgeon General reports [3] that concentrations of many cancer-causing and toxic chemicals are higher in secondhand smoke than in the smoke inhaled by smokers and exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system.
 
MDHA is working with the Metro Health Department and a number of other partners to assist residents who want to stop smoking, including smoking cessation classes twice a week for Parthenon residents.
 
A report from the Metro Nashville Department of Health found four of the top five causes of death for Davidson County residents for 2008 are related to smoking: heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease. In 2009, 20.4% of Nashville adults were smokers.
 
"The decision by MDHA and the Parthenon Towers Resident Association to go tobacco-free is a significant step toward making Nashville a healthier place," said Bill Paul, M.D., Director of Health of Nashville/Davidson County.  "I commend each for looking out for the health and wellbeing of residents and also approaching this change with care and respect," Paul said.  "The dangers of secondhand smoke are well documented and individuals and families living in Parthenon Towers can look forward to a healthier environment."
 
MDHA has established an outdoor smoking area at least 30 feet from any entrance to Parthenon Towers which is accessible to all residents and their guests. Current residents will be grandfathered in under the new policy until lease renewals are initiated or at the discretion of MDHA. All visitors to Parthenon Towers must observe the smoke-free building policy and utilize the designated smoking area. 
 
MDHA is the first large public housing agency to consider implementation of a smoke-free facility policy in Tennessee.
 
Parthenon Towers residential high rise houses more than 300 elderly and disabled residents. Renovations to Parthenon Towers are currently underway, including converting rooms to the new loft style look. In addition, MDHA was the first housing agency in Tennessee to install solar panels on the roof at Parthenon Towers, making MDHA the largest solar energy generator in Davidson County. 
 
The Metro Development and Housing Agency administers a variety of urban and community development projects, works to increase the availability of affordable housing, and leads and supports revitalization efforts in downtown and neighborhoods throughout the city.
 
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1 Jonathan P. Winickoff, M.D., M.P.H., Mark Gottlieb, J.D., Michelle M. Mello, J.D. Ph.D., “Regulation of Smoking in Public Housing,” 2010, N Engl J Med 2010; 362:2319-2325, 17 June, 2010

2 Memo from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Public & Indian Housing, Non-Smoking Policies in Public Housing; July 2009
 
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2006. 

Link to information on second hand smoke seepage in multi-unit residential buildings: http://mysmokefreehousing.org/pdf/LegalitiesofSFPoliciesinPublicHousing.pdf.pdf