The New York Times is reporting that smoking would be prohibited in public housing nationwide under a rule recently proposed by the US Department of Housing & Urban Development. The proposal would affect nearly one million households and open the latest front in the long-running campaign to curb unwanted exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
It would require housing agencies to prohibit lit cigarettes, cigars & pipes in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings. The rule would not apply initially to electronic cigarettes, but federal officials are seeking input about whether to ban them. Included in the Times article were concerns from at least one public housing resident:
“What I do in my apartment should be my problem, long as I pay my rent,” said Gary Smith, 47, a cigarette in hand as he sat outside the door to a building in the Walt Whitman Houses in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. “You don’t know what’s going on in people’s apartment,” he said at the Walt Whitman Houses. He added, “What are they going to do, smell your apartment?”
According to the Associated Press, there are currently more than 228k public housing units nationwide that are smoke-free. The proposed rule would impact the more than 940,000 units where smoking is allowed.
“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,” HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in a statement reported by the Associated Press.
The public will have 60 days to comment on the rule and will take effect 18 months after the rule is finalized.
Public Housing Nationwide May Be Subject to Smoking Ban, New York Times, 11/12/15
HUD Seeks Smoking Ban in Public Housing, Associated Press 11/12/15