Public Housing Smoking Ban Proposed By Feds

If you are a public housing tenant, you may want to take one last draw on that cigarette because a smoking ban may soon be coming.

According to a notice published in the Federal Register, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has proposed a smoking ban in all public housing, which includes approximately 700,000 units. Not just in the lobbies or other common areas, but in the apartments as well.

The agency proposed the ban on Thursday, noting that it would be implementing costs of over $200 million, which will include costs for training, administrative, legal, and enforcement costs. The ban would be limited to all public housing indoor areas and could cause the eviction of many poor, disabled smokers. The ban will apply to all lit cigarettes, pipes, and cigars, and will not currently include Hookahs and electronic cigarettes.

“This proposed rule would require each public housing agency (PHA) administering public housing to implement a smoke-free policy,” the notice reads. “Specifically, this rule proposes that no later than 18 months from the effective date of the final rule, each PHA must implement a policy prohibiting lit tobacco products in all living units, indoor common areas in public housing, and in PHA administrative office buildings.”

Not only will the tenants not be able to smoke in their apartments, or any other indoor area, there will also be limitations to how close to the buildings a tenant can be when they light up.

“The smoke-free policy must also extend to all outdoor areas up to 25 feet from the housing and administrative office buildings.”

According to the notice, HUD decided to propose the implementation of smoke-free public housing to “improve indoor air quality in the housing, benefit the health of public housing residents and PHA staff, reduce the risk of catastrophic fires, and lower overall maintenance costs.”

While the current proposal suggests tenants must be 25 feet from the building to smoke, the notice says the PHA may also implement rules that would require designated smoking areas, further restrictions on where a person can smoke, or they could make the public housing grounds completely smoke free.

Despite the costs associated with the potential smoking ban, the benefits could be considerable. Tenants would be less likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke, and their health would greatly benefit. The ban will also decrease the risk of damage to the apartments, and will lower the risk of fires.

“We have a responsibility to protect public housing residents from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, especially the elderly and children who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases,” Julián Castro, the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said, according to The Washington Free Beacon.

While the smoking ban may seem like a good idea, there are some that find it as being a waste of resources, and virtually impossible to enforce.

“NYCHA barely has enough resources to fix faucets, much less enforce anti-smoking bans,” Ritchie Torres, chair of the City Council’s public housing committee said, according to the New York Daily News. “It is a feel-good public health initiative that will likely prove unenforceable in practice.”

Current public housing tenants are also speaking out against the smoking ban.

“I am getting frustrated,” said J. Newsom, 60. “Of course I smoke in my house. I’m not always gonna come down here, in the rain and the snow, just to smoke a cigarette. This is my house. I do what I want.”

Do you agree with the Feds proposed public housing smoking ban? Leave your comments below.

[Photo via Shutterstock]