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, 2016. The rule requires all PHAs to adopt and implement smoke-free policy that prohibit 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 system, cracks and electrical outlet to other apartments and housing units negatively impacting the health of other people.

Secondhand smoke can cause ear infection, respiratory problems, trigger asthma attack 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.

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 resident 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 cost.
  • It helps reduce legal liability.

Scope of Housing Authority Smoke-Free Policy

  • All housing units except for mixed-finance projects 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 to the HUD rule.
  • Obtain approval from 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 signs 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 smoke-free policy.
  • Partner with your local health department to conduct education sessions for residents and staffs.

Recommended Smoke-Free Policy Adoption and Implementation Timeline

Months 1-3

  • Review the HUD smoke-free policy and Guidebook on the policy.
  • Develop smoke-free policy implementation and enforcement plan.
  • Develop the smoke-free policy.
  • Develop new leases and lease addendum to include smoke-free policy
  • Formally notify housing staff, advisory board and resident of the smoke-free policy.
  • Prepare a Frequently Asked Questions document.
  • Survey residents for their opinions and attitude to 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 request for reasonable accommodation according to your protocol.
  • Contact the Georgia Tobacco Use Prevention Program for additional technical assistance (Chronic.Disease@dph.ga.gov).

  Ready to Quit

You can quit smoking today. We can help.
Improve your chances of quitting by calling the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (GTQL).
English: 1-877-270-STOP (877-270-7867)
Spanish: 1-855 DEJELO-YA
Hearing Impaired: 1-877-777-6534
Hours of Operation: Available every day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (including holidays)

Additional Resources

Page last updated 09/01/17