Strengthening Communities to Be Smoke Free

Wednesday, July 25, 2018 - 12:10 pm EDT
Lance Chrisman

Editor's Note: This is part of our series focusing on the winners of the 2018 Secretary’s Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a nationwide smoke-free policy for all public housing locations effective July 31, 2018. HUD made the policy change to encourage the approximately 33% of public housing residents who currently smoke to consider quitting, and to improve the overall health of other public housing residents who are exposed to the risks of second-hand smoke.

As part of the policy change, HUD also pushed public housing authorities (PHAs) to promote a smoke-free environment. This has been a challenge for many PHAs because smoking cessation resources are either extremely limited or unavailable.

The Anthem Foundation realized there was an opportunity to support an important health effort and partnered with the American Lung Association (ALA) to provide programs and resources to help. Through a two-year, $1M partnership with the ALA, the Anthem Foundation is offering the ALA’s Freedom From Smoking (FFS) cessation program in 14 states to help public housing residents quit smoking for good.

The FFS cessation program has been recognized as the “Gold Standard” of smoking cessation programs with a success rate that is more than double that of similar programs or medically prescribed interventions. It is offered in-person, online and by phone with the oversight of a trained facilitator. The program includes content on building a quit plan, details on medications that can aid quitting smoking, how to make lifestyle changes that support quitting smoking, how to manage stress, and how to overcome relapses in the effort to achieve a smoke-free life.

Anthem Foundation’s work to support the HUD anti-smoking policy is just one example of the Foundation’s broad commitment to addressing national health issues and providing greater access to programs and resources that help improve the lives of people in communities across the country. 

Together, Anthem Foundation and the ALA are working to make a positive difference in the lives of 4,500 low-income residents by enrolling them in cessation coaching, and reducing exposure to secondhand smoke for nearly 1.5M residents. While the collaboration was intended to prepare for the July 31 deadline, the work between Anthem Foundation and ALA will continue into 2019, providing a greater opportunity to help many more residents in breaking their tobacco addiction and achieving their freedom from smoking.

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