The Obama Administration stubbed out smoking in all public housing with a new ruling on Nov. 30. The rule bans smoking inside, and within 25 feet of public housing units and complexes nationwide.
“Over 700,000 units would be affected by this rule (including over 500,000 units inhabited by elderly households or households with a non-elderly person with disabilities), and their non-smoking residents would have the potential to experience health benefits from a reduction of exposure to [second-hand smoke],” the rule, posted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development website, states.
"More than two million people now live in public housing, including 760,000 children," said Pam Fessler, NPR’s national correspondent.
"Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro noted in a statement. "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."
The rule stands to save the federal government “$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."
Public housing agencies that already ban smoking do so with fines, education, counseling, and such aids as nicotine patches, reports The New York Times.
The New York City Housing Authority, the largest public housing agency in the nation with 178,000 units and more than 400,000 residents, says that it is “fully committed to providing an environment that promotes resident health as part of our vision of safe, clean and connected communities.”
Castro acknowledged that the incoming Trump administration could overturn the ban, but remained confident it would not.
“Public housing will go smoke-free and remain smoke-free, and, because of that, so many folks are going to live healthier lives and have a better shot at reaching their dreams because they have good health.”