Capital Region

Smoking banned in all public housing

The new rule went into effect on July 31
The exterior of Yates Village on Van Vranken Avenue in Schenectady is seen in October of 2017.
The exterior of Yates Village on Van Vranken Avenue in Schenectady is seen in October of 2017.

Smoking has been banned in public housing complexes nationwide, after a new rule put in place by the U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development went into effect on July 31.

This includes more than 2,000 housing units in Schenectady, Saratoga, Montgomery and Fulton counties.

The ban was meant to address issues with secondhand smoke, fires caused by cigarettes and reducing the cost of cleaning a unit used by a smoker.

Housing authorities were notified of the pending change in November of 2016, when it was announced by then-HUD Secretary Julian Castro. It gave housing authorities an 18-month window to implement the new rule.

Some housing authorities had already instituted the ban at some of their facilities prior to the new rule being announced by HUD. Those include the Schenectady Housing Authority, which banned smoking indoors, including in renters’ own apartments, back in 2012.

It included the 412 units from the Ten Eyck, Lincoln Heights and Schonowee Village housing complexes, which were meant for the elderly and the disabled.

The new plan was endorsed by the current HUD secretary, Dr. Ben Carson, who praised the benefits in a blog post on HUD’s website. He said it will help improve the health and safety of residents, while also reducing costs to housing authorities.

“Turning over a smoker’s unit can cost more than $1,000 more than a non-smoker’s unit because of the additional labor and material required,” Carson wrote.

Carson added that smoking is the leading cause of fire-related deaths in multifamily apartment complexes.

The new rule prohibits smoking of any kind of “lit tobacco products” in all living units, indoor common areas and administrative offices. People will also be banned from smoking in outdoor areas that are within 25 feet of any housing or administrative office building, according to a press release from HUD.

In its press release, HUD said public housing authorities throughout the country are expected to save $153 million annually on issues related to cigarette smoking. This figure includes $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units and $16 million in smoking-related fire damages.

Carson said in his blog post that HUD is working with different housing authorities to provide assistance for residents looking to quit smoking. The agency is working with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American Lung Association, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Quitline Consortium and the American Cancer Society.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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