Last November, the HUD announced that smoking will be banned in federally funded public housing. This final rule is to be implemented within the next 18 months. These new regulations were revealed by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who has long been a proponent of a ban on smoking in public housing. Castro made the announcement at the Washington Beech housing development, operated by the Boston Housing Authority, which was the first public housing authority in Massachusetts to institute a smoke-free policy at all its developments back in 2012.
Several states had already implemented a smoking ban on public housing and have seen drastic reductions in nicotine levels and in airborne levels of other harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke. For many public housing residents, this ruling has been long overdue. The dangers of exposure to second and third hand smoke have been well documented for decades.
Throughout 2016, HUD worked with Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to finalize this rule, which prohibits lit tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars or pipes) in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” said Castro. “HUD’s smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities. By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD’s rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires.”
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy also commented, “My office has long warned the public about the dangers of smoking, including second-hand smoke. For children who are exposed to second-hand smoke, it can mean everything from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and ear infections to asthma. Protecting our children and families from the devastation caused by secondhand smoke must be a priority for all sectors of our society, including public housing.”
HUD’s smoke-free rule will also reduce damage and maintenance costs associated with smoking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HUD’s national smoke-free policy will save public housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs and preventable fires, including $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units, and $16 million in smoking-related fire losses.