A Matched Analysis of the Association Between Federally Mandated Smoke-Free Housing Policies and Health Outcomes Among Medicaid-enrolled Children in Subsidized Housing, 2015-2019, New York City

Andrea R Titus, Tod N Mijanovich, Kelly Terlizzi, Ingrid G Ellen, Elle Anastasiou, Donna Shelley, Katarzyna Wyka, Brian Elbel, Lorna E Thorpe
American Journal of Epidemiology

Smoke-free housing policies are intended to reduce the deleterious health effects of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure, but there is limited evidence regarding their health impacts. We examined associations between implementation of a federal smoke-free housing rule by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and pediatric Medicaid claims for asthma, lower respiratory infections (LRIs), and upper respiratory infections (URIs) in the early post-policy period. We used geocoded address data to match children living in tax lots with NYCHA buildings (exposed to policy) to children living in lots with other subsidized housing (unexposed to policy). We constructed longitudinal difference-in-differences models to assess relative changes in monthly rates of claims between November 1, 2015 and December 31, 2019 (policy introduction was July 30, 2018). We also examined effect modification by baseline age group (0-2, 3-6, 7-15). In NYC, introduction of a smoke-free policy was not associated with lower rates of Medicaid claims for any outcomes in the early post-policy period. Exposure to the smoke-free policy was associated with slightly higher than expected rates of outpatient URI claims (IRR=1.05, 95% CI=1.01, 1.08), a result most pronounced among children ages 3-6. Ongoing monitoring is essential to understanding long-term health impacts of smoke-free housing policies.