There are currently 1,168,000 public housing units scattered throughout the United States. Over 228,000 units already having smoking bans in force, with 940,000 expected to follow in suit. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Wednesday that smoking will be prohibited in federally subsidized public housing nationwide.
The rule applies to cigarettes, pipes and cigars. Residents will not be allowed to smoke any lit tobacco products inside their apartment or within 25 feet of all buildings. This rule does not apply to electronic cigarettes, vaporizers or smokeless tobacco products. HUD has given local public housing agencies 18 months to prepare for the implementation of the rule.
The residents’ lease will be altered to support the prohibition. Those that refuse to abide by the new rule may face eviction. The Housing Authority of Baltimore City operates 11,000 public housing units, the biggest in the state. Spokeswoman Tania Baker said, “It is our intent to fully comply with the rule within the prescribed timeframe.”
The new rule will eliminate the dangers of secondhand smoke, but it is expected to be a major expense for local public housing agencies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rule will reduce secondhand smoke-related health care expenses. It will also cut $43 million off renovation of smoking-permitted units.
More than 100,000 fires annually are linked to smoking, resulting in nearly half a billion dollars in property damage and 500 deaths. This rule could potentially lead to healthier and safer communities.
Several tenants of Perkins Homes expressed their opinions about HUD’s smoke-free rule, saying it was absurd and no one would know if they were smoking in their apartment. Donnie Bowman told Baltimore Sun that he preferred smoking in his home, because it kept the trouble out of his face. He also said, “They ain’t going to be able to stop it, not as long as my name is on the lease.”