Beginning early 2017, smoking will be banned in public housing across the nation, announced the Obama administration last Wednesday.
The rule will affect more than 1.2 million households but will have its greatest impact in New York where the New York City Housing Authority accounts for the largest public housing network in the U.S.– 178,000 apartments and more than 400,000 residents, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Public housing will have 18 months have to implement the smoke-free policy– a ban that prohibits cigarettes, cigars, pipes or any other burning tobacco product.
“I don’t smoke, but I think people should have the right to do what they want to do in their own apartment.”
However, many public housing residents in Brooklyn– smokers and non-smokers– do not agree with the decision. Many pointed out that currently, NYCHA residents aren’t able to smoke outside because of the proximity of the parks surrounding the buildings, so banning smoking inside of the buildings leaves smokers little options and is reason enough to move.
“You can’t tell people what to do in their own house. I don’t smoke, but I think people should have the right to do what they want to do in their own apartment. They say outside but soon you can’t even smoke in the parks, said You shouldn’t have to do that,” stated 42-year-old Jenyse Bowen, who is a public housing employee. “I understand a clean environment. I get that so I can understand the ban in the parks. I can understand that ‘not around the children.’ But to tell people what to do in their own homes, that’s just wrong to me.”
Wanda Watson said, “People are paying their rent and people should do what they want to do. Now I could say don’t smoke in the hallways, don’t smoke in the elevators, don’t smoke in the building but now [with this ban] you’re doing too much.”
But HUD points to the fact that smoking is the highest preventable cause of death in the U.S.more and points to the more than 100,000 fires and 500 hundred deaths linked to smoking nationwide.
Studies show that the new ban will significantly reduce damage and maintenance costs related to smoking while saving public housing agencies 153 million every year in repairs and preventable fires.
“Protecting people from secondhand smoke saves lives and saves money,” said CDC Director, Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.
“I don’t believe in smoking. Smoking is a cause of a lot of fires, because if one fire starts in one apartment it can involve the whole building and the surrounding buildings.”
Tessa Johnson, a 62-year-old hospice care nurse and Brooklyn resident agreed: “They shouldn’t be smoking at all; I don’t believe in smoking. Smoking is a cause of a lot of fires, because if one fire starts in one apartment it can involve the whole [building] and the surrounding [buildings].”
Still, many more public housing residents feel the rule has crossed the line.
“That’s a rough rule, especially during this time when it’s cold outside you have to go across the street to smoke. A lot of people are not going to be happy about that,” said Kenneth Watson, 28, a chimney sweep who lives in Brooklyn. “If you pay, you should be able to do pretty much what you want to do in your house unless it’s illegal for the state or the city. If you can buy cigarettes anywhere, then you should be able to smoke pretty much anywhere.”
“I understand with some people it’s second hand smoke, but if people pay hundreds of dollars every month for shelter, they should be able to smoke where they pay.” said retiree Julia Johnson, 49, who smokes. “They must know where I rent then. For the smokers, they must accommodate us and deduct some of that off of our rent if we have to go through all of that.”
Still, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said, “Protecting our children and families from the devastation caused by secondhand smoke must be a priority for all sectors of our society.”
What do you think? Is a smoking ban the right thing to do for everyone’s safety, or is it an infringement on people’s personal rights? Take our poll and let us know!