The Board of Commissioners of the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority unanimously approved a resolution calling for a Non-Smoking Policy for all ARHA residents at its meeting last month. When fully implemented in late Spring 2015, the new policy will cover approximately 3,000 residents.
Results of a survey of smoking prevalence and attitudes on smoking at ARHA indicate that approximately 33 percent of adult residents are smokers. This is consistent with rates reported by a few other housing authorities, but way above the 19-21 percent rate of adult smoking among those who do not live in affordable housing.
Non-smoking or smoke-free policies in affordable housing is a national trend. More than 430 housing authorities nationwide have adopted smoke free policies of one kind or another. However, ARHA’s action makes it only the third housing authority in the Commonwealth of Virginia to take such action — Portsmouth and Chesapeake are the other two — and the first in Northern Virginia to do so.
Efforts are already underway — supported by a grant from the Alexandria City Council — to create a system for the delivery of affordable, comprehensive smoking cessation services to ARHA residents. Services include:
Free group cessation counseling classes
Access to a primary care provider who can assess their smoking behavior
Referral for individual behavioral health counselors, and
Prescribe FDA-approved therapies and medications where appropriate.