Seed Grant from NYU Silver Office for Research Advances Clinical Assistant Professor Cora de Leon’s Tobacco Policy Research
By NYU Silver Communications OfficeNov 23, 2020
Study will explore smoke-free policies in public housing during the COVID-19 pandemic
Clinical Assistant Professor and Westchester Campus Coordinator Cora de Leon has been awarded a Small Seed Fund grant from NYU Silver’s Office for Research (OFR) for a study exploring smoke-free policies in public housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor de Leon’s study, entitled “Examining Smoke-Free Compliance Challenges and Social Norm Fluctuations Among NYC Public Housing Residents during COVID-19,” will use mixed methods to explore and describe the effects of COVID-19 on New York City Housing Authority residents, specifically as it relates to compliance challenges and social norms associated with enforcement of the federal smoke-free policy. Data to be gathered includes demographic information and experiences with smoking or smoking incursions in residences, as well as challenges that have arisen or have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
“Smoking cigarettes impacts both the smoker and those that are exposed to the smoke, and like COVID-19, illnesses borne from smoking and secondhand smoke disproportionately impact people of lower socio-economics status backgrounds,” said Professor de Leon, who is currently working toward her PhD with a focus on how research informs policy, particularly in the area of tobacco use. “With restrictions relating to COVID-19 in place in NYC, smokers living in public housing may be experiencing compliance challenges with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development rule that public housing properties be 100% smoke-free indoors, and within 25 feet of buildings. While social norms associated with smoking enforcement has had widespread success in other settings, it has met with resistance in residential settings, perhaps because of the relational context that exists between neighbors and others in one’s community. Whether one is attempting to comply with smoke free policies as a smoker, or is enduring smoking incursions as a non-smoker, the threat of COVID-19 infection and additional restrictions because of COVID-19, can bring about additional stress and worry. This may have a lasting impact on the overall health of residents living in public housing.”
Professor de Leon expressed appreciation for the Silver Office for Research’s support of her study and its potential implications for the field. “Understanding the challenges faced by residents in multi-unit housing, as they relate to either their own ability to refrain from smoking or talking to a neighbor whose smoke is infiltrating their apartment during COVID-19 restrictions, informs how best to incorporate the smoke free policy to increase healthy outcomes,” she said. “Data may be used in the creation of tailored, community-based supports for those living in multi-unit buildings where smoke free policies encapsulate buildings as a whole and where other, short term restrictions may be put in place. Additionally, these findings may be used for comparison to other multi-unit public housing buildings to examine differences and similarities in challenges with this policy.”
NYU Silver’s Office for Research Small Seed Fund supports small-scale faculty research projects that will facilitate the development of faculty research programs and assist them in securing additional resources to advance these programs.