Johnson County increases access to smoke-free housing

In 2015, Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) partnered with Shawnee Mission Health to conduct its most recent Community Health Assessment.

Staff and volunteers surveyed over 500 households and gained valuable insight into the health of our community. The Johnson County Community Health Assessment and Community Profile was released in 2016. 

Using that data, a broad-based coalition of community partners was convened to develop the Johnson County Community Health Improvement Plan for 2017-2019.  

Three priority areas were identified through this process:  

  1. Chronic disease prevention and health promotion
  2. Access to health care
  3. Mental health 

Each of these priorities have several activities and initiatives under way.  More information about these projects and the partners involved can be found here.  

The most recent initiative to launch is an effort to increase access to smoke-free, multi-unit properties for residents in our community. Although the overall smoking rate in Johnson County is low, many in our community are disproportionately impacted by tobacco and environmental tobacco smoke. The Smoke-Free Multi-Unit Housing project was developed to help reduce the impact on these populations.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people who live in apartments, townhouses, and condominiums are disproportionately affected by neighbors who smoke, and recommend multifaceted community plans that include both education and policy efforts.  

A study done by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that 34 percent of multi-unit housing residents who have smoke-free policies in their own homes have been exposed to secondhand smoke from a nearby unit. This journal also reports that secondhand smoke kills 41,000 people a year in the United States and costs $5.6 billion annually in lost productivity.

Property owners and residents alike increasingly are both seeking smoke-free living and ways to bring smoke-free policies to their apartment complexes. The coalition has been hard at work on this issue and has already seen some local successes.  A Johnson County senior living property and small apartment complex received our assistance in developing smoke-free properties.

In September 2017, a website was launched that contains helpful information for both tenants and landlords. Included are “how to guides” on getting the conversation started for residents who are impacted by secondhand smoke, and property owners who want to protect their tenant’s health as well as their investment. In addition, the site provides sample lease addendums, sample signage, background information about secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing, local testimonials, and resources for those who want to stop smoking or using tobacco products. 

JCDHE is pleased to offer this resource to the community, and is available to assist both landlords and tenants in Johnson County.

New partners are always welcome!  If you are interested in supporting this effort, or would like more information contact Mike Krueger with the Johnson County Department of Health & Environment – email:  Michelene.Krueger@jocogov.org or phone: (913) 477-8384.


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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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