AAFE has released a key report,  “Making Room to Breathe: A Case Study of Smoke-Free Housing in NYC.”  Its findings and recommendations are based on a series of case studies in AAFE owned buildings as well as focus groups conducted with participation from local residents.

The publication is part of AAFE’s citywide smoke-free housing campaign in partnership with NYC Coalition for a Smoke-Free City, a health advocacy group that works to increase awareness of tobacco control issues among community members and policy makers.  The report was overseen by AAFE’s Director of Policy and Leadership Development, Douglas Le.

AAFE Program Associate Jin Xiu Chen, who helped conduct focus groups for the report, said, “I think it’s great that AAFE is making an effort to curb smoking in the Asian community.”  On a personal note, she added,  ”My father has been smoking since he was a teenager.  A smoke-free building would give him a bigger push to quit smoking.”

AAFE’s Jin Xiu (right) presented about smoke-free housing at Community Board 7’s Health and Mental Health Committee meeting in October along with Lenny (left) from Brooklyn CPC and Edric (center) from Brooklyn Smoke-Free Partnership.

Recommendations from the report include:

1) The tobacco control movement from its start has been guided by the principle of social equity. Our efforts need to strive to benefit the most vulnerable in our community, including youth, seniors, low-income families, immigrants and communities of color.

2) Smoke-free housing policies are in accordance with AAFE’s mission to advance the rights of Asian Americans and reduce health disparities. AAFE, as well as similar non-profit and advocacy groups are uniquely positioned to lead the charge so that smoke-free housing is an available option for all New Yorkers regardless of income.

3) It is very feasible to implement smoke free housing policies in affordable housing developments, and voluntary adoption policies can be developed where regulatory barriers exist such as in the case of rent stabilized buildings.

4) Landlords should not use smoke-free policies or lease terms in order to harass or force the eviction of a tenant. Tobacco use is an addiction. Individuals should be provided with cessation resources and reminded to go outside the building if they want to smoke.

5) Whether smoke-free policies are written into the terms of a lease or adopted on a voluntary basis, the most important factor in successful implementation is meaningful communication with tenants. This includes educating tenants about the benefits of smoke-free policies in the building, receiving their feedback and ultimately building their consensus to adopt smoke-free housing policies.

Click here to read the report.