Public housing facilities are requested to implement a smoke-free policy in 18 months’ time by the Department of Housing and Urban Developments. As a result, the Erie housing Authority is now seeking federal guidance when it comes to implementing the smoking ban.
Seeing that the policy must be adopted by the early start of the next year, the secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, says that the public housing facilities will benefit from the proper resources in order to create a smoke-free environment. Hence, the state department will provide all the means for as many as 3,100 facilities across the country to install the policy over the course of the next 18 months.
However, Michael Fraley, the deputy Director expresses his concerns when it comes to enforcing the new rule, saying that this is the hardest part. As of yet, there is no clear answer on how the Erie Housing Authority is going to proceed.
The public housing facility has already banned smoking in common areas mainly found in senior buildings. These also have smoke-free areas or smoking shelters which are located away from relaxing areas or entries. However, there is nothing that can be done about smoking in individual units.
“These are people’s living spaces”, says Michael Fraley.
By the federal rule, all lit tobacco products, including pipes, cigarettes, or cigars are prohibited indoor common places and the outdoor area of 25 feet surrounding administrative offices, buildings, or public housing facilities. However, it does not say anything about the use of electronic cigarettes.
There are many reasons as to why the Department of Housing and Urban Development wants to implement the non-smoking rule. One of them consists of the public’s views on smoking. The Department also says that before coming up with the rule, it considered the comments of 1,000 housing agencies, partners, tenants, and health advocates.
Another reason for the ban is that the health officials agree that non-smoking public housing agencies will be safe from fires that could otherwise be caused by lit cigarettes. At the same time, the cost of maintenance also drops significantly. Moreover, Julian Castro’s primary focus is to keep children safe, away from secondhand smoking, according to a press release. However, the opinions on this matter are equally divided. According to Mr. Fraley, half of the residents agree with the federal law, while the other half strongly disagrees with the smoking ban.
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