NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Obama administration has announced a final rule prohibiting smoking in public housing developments nationwide.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development says more than 228,000 public housing units are already smoke-free. The rule HUD announced Wednesday will expand the impact to more than 940,000 units.
The final rule prohibits lit tobacco products in all living units and indoor common areas, and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative offices. The new rule gives public housing agencies 18 months to implement the ban.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the smoke-free policy will save housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs, preventable fires and health care costs. That amount includes $16 million in costs associated with smoking-related fires.
Patrick Kwan, director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, said this will positively impact the 400,000 people in New York City Housing Authority developments.
“For far too long people who depend on public housing, people who are in NYCHA, people who are in affordable housing are more likely to report smelling second-hand smoke in their homes,” Kwan told 1010 WINS, noting second-hand smoke is a known cause of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
He said smoke-free housing is especially important for children.
“Up to one out of every three kids who are at NYCHA are reported to have asthma symptoms,” Kwan said. “This is something that will help protect some of the most vulnerable people.”
New York City Housing Authority already prohibits smoking from common areas, including hallways and lobbies. The new rules extend the smoke-free policy to individual apartments.
“People should not be exposed to dangerous second hand smoke when they’re at restaurants, when they’re at their work places, and this landmark public health effort is to make sure that it’ll also will not be happening inside people’s apartments,” Kwan said. “Living free from the dangers of second hand smoke will no longer be a luxury that’s out of reach for New Yorkers who depend on NYCHA public housing.”
“In our homes?” a woman living in Manhattan’s Amsterdam Houses asked WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “Then they should allow us to buy the little unit, and then we should be able to do whatever we want in here.”
Another resident, cigarette in hand, said parents alone should take on the responsibility of protecting their children.
“I feel like that’s the parents’ job to keep them away from second-hand smoke. Like if you’re going to smoke in front of your kids, then that’s on you,” he said.
Cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs will be forbidden. The ban does not apply to e-cigarettes.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)