Obama administration bans smoking in low-income housing

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Wednesday it will ban smoking in public housing units in an effort to protect millions of low-income tenants from the effects of secondhand smoke.

The smoking ban will apply to more than 940,000 homes that are subsidized by the federal government. 

“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” Housing Secretary Julián Castro said in a statement.


The smoking ban comes as the clock winds down on the Obama administration and is scheduled to go into effect in 18 months, but it could be overturned by President-elect Donald Trump and the incoming Republican-controlled Congress.

Residents living in more than 228,000 public housing units already face smoking bans from state and local authorities. HUD plans to expand the policy to another 700,000 homes.

Under the ban, traditional cigarettes, cigars and hookah will be prohibited, but HUD carved out an exemption for electronic cigarettes.

Low-income housing residents will still be allowed to smoke, but not inside their homes or within 25 feet of any public housing building. 

The move is intended to protect children who live with smokers, as well as their neighbors, who are often exposed to secondhand smoke that travels through shared walls and ceilings.

The smoking ban will also crack down on millions of dollars worth a property damaged caused each year from preventable fires and repairs, according to HUD.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking kills 480,000 Americans each year.

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown called the smoking ban a “lifesaver.”

“This is especially true for the elderly and very young, who are particularly vulnerable to tobacco smoke,” Brown said. 

“Even a small amount of smoke exposure can have dismal health effects,” she added.

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