HUD Announces New Smoke-Free Policy

On Nov. 30, 2016, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Julian Castro, announced in Roslindale, Massachusetts, that smoking will be prohibited in public housing buildings nationwide. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined Castro for this major policy announcement.

According to a HUD press release, public housing agencies have up to 18 months from the effective date of the new rule (60 days after the date of publication in the federal register) to implement the new smoke-free policy.

While the housing will be smoke-free, Castro emphasized that housing will still be available to smokers and non-smokers alike.

“The goal is not to have smoker-free housing; it’s to have smoke-free housing,” Castro said, according to the Berkshire Eagle.

There may be designated smoking areas in some public houses, but these must be outside of the 25-foot smoke-free perimeter around the building.

According to a press release from the HUD, this new rule will help cut maintenance and health costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) affirms that the new policy will reduce public housing agency spending by $153 million per year in repairs, healthcare and preventable fires.

The CDC estimates that $94 million dollars will be saved in second-hand smoke health costs alone. Given that cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, with over 480,000 Americans dying of smoking each year, the new smoke-free rule will help keep some of the nation’s most vulnerable alive and healthy.

Lizzie Short

Lizzie Short is a freelance writer in New England.

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