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Where we stand: Smoke-free public housing

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Truth Initiative and The Society for Research on Nicotine & Tobacco weighed in on a rule proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to implement smoke-free policies in public housing, saying that they “applaud” HUD’s move while urging the department to prioritize education and cessation over eviction when enforcing the ban. 

“Smoke-free housing will protect the health of all [public housing association] residents,” the joint comment said. “There is much research showing the dangers of secondhand smoke on the health of not only the smoker but also those exposed to the secondhand smoke.”

In its comment, the organizations said that they “do not support eviction as an enforcement mechanism,” and that “enforcement should focus on education about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke including risks in a multi-unit environment, along with increasing the availability of cessation assistance.”

“Safe and secure housing should not be put at risk because someone is not able to overcome the powerful addiction to tobacco,” the statement said.

In addition, the organizations responded to HUD’s question as to whether electronic nicotine delivery systems should be covered in the public housing smoking ban.

“We believe that ENDS should be banned in all public indoor areas listed in the rule but not in individual living units,” the comment said.

The proposed rule, announced in November 2015, would cover what HUD estimated to be 3,100 public housing agencies and would go into effect 18 months after the final rule is published. According to The Washington Post“more than 228,000 of the nation’s public housing units are already smoke-free.”

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