Council regeneration projects should aspire to be smoke-free, says report

Not enough is being done to ensure that major council housing regeneration projects are smoke-free, according to an investigation into smoking in council homes.

The report by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) argues that councils should be more aspirational about smoke-free environments within new developments with many professionals and politicians interviewed for the report feeling that new developments and regeneration activity created opportunities to change social norms around smoking.

One unnamed politician interviewed said if a tenant was moving from an old flat to a new build, it should be an opportunity to encourage them to quit smoking.

‘When you have new housing there’s an opportunity to shift the rules a bit. It could be a teachable moment,’ they said.

The wide-ranging report also says there is an appetite for more action to reduce smoking in local communities among both private and social tenants, and landlords should take a more proactive approach.

The report also found people living in council housing are more likely to be smokers, and they are half as likely to succeed in quitting smoking compared to those living in other housing tenures.

Lee Sugden of Salford-based housing association Salix Homes said: ‘This ASH report paints a vision in which the housing sector ups its game and routinely seizes opportunities such as these, forging exciting new partnerships with our colleagues in health and beyond to deliver tangible benefits to tenants and to society.

‘Tobacco dependency is disproportionately harming the communities we house, so if you work for a housing association and care about the wellness of your tenants, promoting smoke-free homes is absolutely your business,’ he added.

ASH has called on the social housing and regeneration sectors to target support in communities where smoking is highly concentrated by ensuring tenants have access to stop smoking clinics and are aware of quitting smoking aids such as vapes.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, added: ‘This report does not call for a blanket ban on smoking in the home.

‘It is focused on increasing the support to smokers where they live and raising awareness around the role many more professionals could play in tackling entrenched and high rates of smoking in some of our poorest communities.’

Read the report here.

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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