Smoke-Free Policy in Public Housing

Smoke-Free Policy in Public Housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development finalize the smoke-free policy rule for all public housing authorities (PHA) in November of 2016. The rule requires all PHAs to adopt and implement the smoke-free policy that prohibits the use of all lit tobacco products inside all dwelling units, indoor common areas, and housing authority administrative buildings by August 2018. The policy must also extend to 25 feet from all housing and administrative buildings.

The use of any form of tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable illnesses and diseases in the United States. Combustible tobacco products such as cigars and cigarettes negatively impact the health of both the user and non-user. Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke from the burning end of a combustible tobacco product and the smoke exhaled by the smoker. Secondhand smoke is proven to be harmful to the health of an individual, especially children. Secondhand smoke drifts through windows, ventilation systems, cracks, and electrical outlets to other apartments and housing units negatively impacting the health of other people.

Secondhand smoke can cause ear infections, respiratory problems, trigger asthma attacks, and Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) in children. It can cause respiratory diseases, cancer in any part of the body, heart diseases, and worsen pre-existing conditions such as hypertension and diabetes in adults. 

Secondhand aerosol from electronic smoking devices is not harmless water vapor. The aerosol created by e-cigarettes can contain ingredients that are harmful and potentially harmful to the public’s health, including nicotine; ultrafine particles; flavorings; volatile organic compounds; and heavy metals.

Smoke-Free Policy is Legal

  • Smoking is a public health issue.
  • It does not violate the resident’s privacy rights.
  • It does not discriminate against residents who smoke.
  • It is about where people smoke and not their smoking status.
  • People who smoke are not a protected class.

Benefits of Smoke-Free Policy

  • Good for health and good for business.
  • It provides tenants and staff with a healthier and safer environment.
  • It protects the health and safety of residents and staff.
  • It promotes equity.
  • It reduces property maintenance, unit turnover time, and the risk of fire.
  • It provides an opportunity to ask for reduced insurance costs.
  • It helps reduce legal liability.

Scope of Housing Authority Smoke-Free Policy

  • All housing units except for mixed-finance project units must be smoke-free.
  • All indoor areas including hallway, administrative offices, laundry centers, and community centers must be smoke-free.
  • Outdoor areas within 25 feet of dwelling units and administrative buildings must be smoke-free.
  • Designated smoking areas must be at least 25 feet away from dwelling units and administrative.

How to Implement the Smoke-Free Policy

  • Develop/update your smoke-free policy in accordance with the HUD rule.
  • Obtain approval from the housing authority board.
  • Obtain input from residents on the policy.
  • Communicate the policy change to residents, staff, and board members.
  • Educate residents, staff, and board members on the policy change and the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Ensure that residents sign a lease or lease addendum that includes smoke-free policy language.
  • Implement the smoke-free policy by July 30, 2018.
  • Enforce the policy consistently.

Educate on Smoke-Free Policy

  • Present a clear consistent message about your smoke-free policy.
  • Develop a central message on the benefits of a smoke-free policy.
  • Partner with your local health department to conduct education sessions for residents and staff.

Recommended Smoke-Free Policy Adoption and Implementation Timeline

Months 1-3

  • Review the HUD smoke-free policy and Guidebook on the policy.
  • Develop a smoke-free policy implementation and enforcement plan.
  • Develop a smoke-free policy.
  • Develop new leases and lease addenda to include a smoke-free policy
  • Formally notify housing staff, advisory board, and residents of the smoke-free policy.
  • Prepare a Frequently Asked Questions document.
  • Survey residents for their opinions and attitude of a smoke-free policy.
  • Partner with the local health department to conduct education sessions with residents and staff.
  • Educate and train the staff on the policy and enforcement strategy.
  • Identify partners that can assist residents who want to quit.
  • Utilize the Georgia Tobacco Quitline service.

Months 4-6

  • Post information in your buildings and electronically (e.g., website, resident portal and email notice).
  • All residents should sign the lease and lease addendums with smoke-free policy language included.
  • Reach out to residents who may have difficulty complying with the new policy, such as people with physical or mental disability.
  • Order and install smoke-free signs around the property.
  • Plan a kickoff celebration to mark the implementation of the smoke-free policy.

Launch Your Policy

  • Celebrate the implementation of the smoke-free policy.
  • Maintain records of violations.
  • Respond to all requests for reasonable accommodation according to your protocol.
  • Contact the Georgia Tobacco Use Prevention Program for additional technical assistance ([email protected]).

 Ready to Quit

You can quit smoking and vaping today. We can help.
Improve your chances of quitting by calling or texting the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (GTQL).

  • English: 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867)
  • Español: 1-877-2NO-FUME (877-266-3863)
  • Hearing Impaired: 1-877-777-6534
  • English: Text READY to 34191
  • Español: Text LISTO to 34191

Hours of Operation: Available every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including holidays)

Additional Resources

Quitting is your best option to reduce your risk from smoking and tobacco use-related diseases. Vaping is not a healthy alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes and vape products are not FDA-approved cessation devices. For more information and support to help you quit contact the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line.

Click HERE for more information about quitting.

Page last updated 7/10/2023