Health groups call for e-smoking ban in public housing

The Obama administration should extend a public housing smoking ban to electronic cigarettes, health advocates say.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a smoking ban in November that would protect public housing residents, and particularly children and the elderly, from the effects of secondhand smoke.

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The smoking ban would prohibit people from lighting cigarettes, cigars and pipes inside government-assisted homes for low-income families. It would also extend to outdoor common areas.

With the comment period closing, dozens of health groups on Tuesday urged HUD to extend the smoking ban to e-cigarettes and make sure the rules apply not only to future residents but also current residents.

“There is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure for children,” wrote Benard Dreyer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, one of the health groups that filed joint comments on the rule. "HUD’s long-awaited action to make public housing smokefree is a welcome step forward not only to ensure that children will be able to live and breathe safely in their homes, but also to protect low-income families who have no control over the air they breathe in through shared walls and ventilation systems."