A smoking ban will be put into place in public housing buildings nationwide, according to a new federal rule.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said the no-smoking rule will go into effect in 2017, but “public housing agencies would have a year and a half to put smoke-free policies in place,” The New York Times reported.
Officials say up to 1.2 million households could be affected.
The ban will especially affect the nation’s largest public housing agency, the New York City Housing Authority, where 178,000 apartments fall under its jurisdiction. The agency currently has no policy on smoking in its housing units.
Some public housing agencies have voluntarily adopted smoke-free policies that have gone into effect in an estimated 200,000 homes.
HUD proposed the ban a year ago in its campaign to combat secondhand smoke exposure.
The rule bans “cigarettes, cigars, pipes and hookahs (or water pipes) — but not electronic cigarettes — from being smoked in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and office buildings.”
Housing agencies that already enforce the ban say they enforce the rule through warnings, fines, counseling, and aids to quit smoking such as nicotine patches.
“We don’t see this as a policy that is meant to end in a whole lot of evictions,” HUD Secretary Julian Castro said. “We’re confident that public housing authority staff can work with residents so that that can be avoided.”
The city of Boston approved a smoking ban in all of its public housing facilities in 2008, NJ Advance Media reported.
Boston also approved a smoking ban in city-run parks in 2013.