Smoking is no longer permitted in or near public housing across the nation, effective July 31.
Those who smoke can no longer light up cigarettes, cigars, or pipes in or within 25 feet of public housing and administrative office buildings. All public housing agencies (PHA) are to implement the ban no later than July 31 this year. A fact sheet (pdf) was released to alert residents of the change.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wrote in its policy that the rule will improve indoor air quality in the housing, which in turn will benefit people inside, as well as lower the risk of fires and lowers overall costs in maintenance.
According to the CDC, those in public housing who do not smoke are still prone to secondhand smoke—studies have shown that secondhand smoke can still travel to indoor areas where people do not smoke, via ventilation systems and windows. The CDC said that children, the elderly, and the disabled, who comprise a large number of public housing residents, are more vulnerable to, and can be affected by, secondhand smoke.
“The Surgeon General has concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that only 100 percent smoke-free policies fully protect people from involuntary exposure,” the CDC states on its website.
Tenants who are found in violation of the ban may face eviction. But not complying to the ban would not be considered a crime, rather, it would be considered a civil violation.
Benefits of Smoke Free Environment
According to the CDC, secondhand smoke is responsible for 40,000 deaths in the United States each year, and brings a higher risk of cancer and heart disease in adults. For children, secondhand smoke can cause “more frequent and intense asthma attacks, more respiratory infections, and higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.”
A study by the CDC in 2014 suggests that having a nationwide smoking ban in all government-subsidised housing, which encompasses public housing, could save an estimated $497 million a year in health care and housing-related costs—that is, $53 million in smoking-related fire damages, $134 million in renovation costs, and $310 million in secondhand smoking-related health care.
In 2017, a study published in Preventive Medicine found that one-third of adults who received housing assistance were smokers, and tended to report higher rates of “adverse outcomes” including poorer health, disability, asthma, and distress compared to nonsmokers.