The Department of Housing and Urban Development is announcing a proposed ban on smoking in public housing nationwide, according to The New York Times.
The ban would affect almost one million households.
Under the proposed ban, common areas and administrative offices on public housing property would also be smoke free, the article notes. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) would feel the greatest impact of the ban. More than 400,000 people live in about 178,000 apartments in NYCHA buildings.
More than 600 agencies, which encompass more than 200,000 households, have banned indoor smoking since the federal government began to encourage smoking bans in public housing in 2009. Federal officials say smoking bans protect residents from secondhand smoke, reduce the risk of fires and lower costs of building maintenance. Secondhand smoke can travel through walls and under doors.
“It’s a fraught process, because to do it properly you need community buy-in,” said Sunia Zaterman, Executive Director of the Council of Large Public Housing Authorities. “To do this successfully, it can’t be a top-down edict, because you want people to comply with the policy.”
NYCHA Chairwoman and Chief Executive Shola Olatoye told the newspaper, “For us, the major issue is our ability to enforce something like this.” She said the effort should be led by residents, and added the police should not be involved.
Smoking is already banned in the lobbies and hallways of NYCHA buildings. According to a 2012 survey of residents of the buildings, 14 percent said they smoked and 24 percent said at least one household member smoked. More than 35 percent said their household included a child with asthma or other respiratory problems.
“There’s clearly a need for addressing this issue head-on,” Olatoye said. “The question is, how do we do it?”