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Health, Science and Environment

All public housing goes smoke-free

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Smoking has been banned in many places including bars, schools, and public transportation. Now, by the end of July millions of people will no longer be able to light up in their homes.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has mandated all public housing authorities ban smoking in all of their properties by July 31, 2018.

Cliff Douglas is a University of Michigan professor of public health. He said public housing is particularly bad for second hand smoke.

“It’s widely documented across the country that secondhand smoke seeps throughout the residences. Walls don’t keep smoke out. Ventilation units transfer smoke from one unit to the next. So, there are a lot of folks who have been asking to be protected against this”.  

This new mandate, Douglas said, is a reflection of changes in our society.  

“We are becoming an increasingly smoke free society. We recognize that the health impact of tobacco use and certainly exposure by innocent bystanders to secondhand smoke is a very serious public health problem”.

Douglas said the mandate only applies to publicly-owned properties. Smoking bans at subsidized privately-owned properties remain at the discretion of the owner.

Douglas said the mandate is purely a matter of public health, however the smoking ban is also likely to save housing authorities nationwide millions of dollars annually in cleaning, repairs, and fire loss costs.