The Federal government is looking to make public housing a complete smoke-free environment. Already, the potential rule is proving to be contentious. The HUD is seeking the massive ban because second hand smoke has been proven to be dangerous, even for non-smokers.
As such, the move is being lauded by those who suffer from second-hand smoke. Still, many are worried that the ban would simply be used as an excuse to harass residents, and possibly remove them from public housing all-together.
The ban would prohibit tobacco products that produce smoke, such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes, in all indoor common areas, residences, and administrative offices. Further, people would be banned from smoking outside within 25 feet of buildings.
Electronic cigarettes that don’t emit smoke would not be banned under the proposal. The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed ban. It would not take effect for 18 months after being finalized.
The brewing battle is especially contentious because smoking on private property and private homes is perfectly legal. The move to ban smoking in public housing would mark a rare instance of the government banning an otherwise legal activity in public housing.
Even non-smokers are lashing out against the ban. Devante Barrett, who is 24 years old and doesn’t smoke, called the ban bogus and said, “You might as well have us all chained up in bondage now.”
Banning smoking is already somewhat common in public housing. Approximately 20 percent of federal subsidized housing units ban smoking. The Department of Health now wants to expand this ban to the rest of the approximate 940,000 units spread across the country.
Besides protecting people from secondhand smoke, such a widespread ban might force people to quit smoking all-together. While smoking has recently plummeted to an all-time low among adults, it remains a serious problem. Smoking among poorer communities, for example, remains far higher than among the general population.
Nearly 30 percent of those who use Federally subsidized health insurance, for example, smoke. At the same time, less than 13 percent of people with private insurance smoke. In total, about 17 percent of adults smoke.
But her son said he tells her every day that she needs to stop, and Jones acknowledged that a federal ban would probably force her to finally abandon the habit.
HUD officials claim that the nationwide ban would protect at least 760,000 children from the effects of secondhand smoke. Further, the ban would result in savings of $153 million dollars a year in preventable fires, repairs, and health care costs.