Public Housing Receives Smoking Ban

Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced that they will ban smoking on the premises of public housing developments across the nation.

Secretary Julián Castro formerly made the announcement Nov. 30.

“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” said Castro. “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.”

Here in New York City, elected officials, city agencies and advocacy groups seemed tremendously pleased with the decision. According to NYC Smoke-Free, one of the country’s largest public health institutes, the new HUD rule will positively impact 400,000 New Yorkers currently living in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments.

“Living free from the dangers of secondhand smoke will no longer be a luxury out of reach for New Yorkers who depend on NYCHA public housing,” Patrick Kwan, director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions said.

“Thanks to this landmark, HUD public health action, families in NYCHA developments who are subjected to secondhand smoke pollution in their homes will no longer have to endure the harmful exposure.”

In 2012, NYC Smoke-Free conducted a Clean-Air Survey along with NYCHA and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In this study, they found that residents in New York Public Housing are more likely to report smelling cigarette smoke in their homes that came from a neighbor’s apartment or outside. They also found that 75 percent of NYCHA residents preferred to live in a building where smoking was not allowed anywhere inside the building, including apartments. Of that figure, 64 percent of residents responded that all public housing or projects in the city should be smoke-free.

Here in Southeast Queens, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said that he was happy to see that kind of action being taken.

“The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s announcement this week that smoking will be banned in all public housing is a breath of fresh air for thousands of NYCHA residents who have dealt with unhealthy living conditions for far too long,” Richards said. “We need to do more to protect the health and well-being of our public housing residents, especially innocent children who suffer from asthma and other chronic illnesses that can be caused by second-hand smoke.”

-Trone Dowd

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