U.S. Will Ban Smoking in Public Housing Nationwide
Smoking will be prohibited in public-housing residences nationwide under a federal rule announced on Wednesday. Officials with the Department of Housing and Urban Development said the rule will go into effect early next year, but they are giving public housing agencies a year and a half to put smoke-free policies into effect. More than 1.2 million households will be affected, the officials said, although some 200,000 homes already come under smoking bans adopted voluntarily by hundreds of public housing agencies around the country. The ban will have the biggest implications in New York, where the New York City Housing Authority, the nation’s largest public housing agency, with 178,000 apartments and more than 400,000 residents, has lagged behind many of its smaller counterparts in adopting smoke-free policies. HUD proposed the ban a year ago in the latest front in the long-running campaign to curb exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. The rule bans cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs (or water pipes) — but not e-cigarettes — in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and office buildings. Housing agencies that already ban smoking said they enforce their policy through warnings and fines coupled with education, including counseling and smoking-cessation aids like nicotine patches. “The last thing that we want are evictions,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said during a call with reporters.
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