09 | 26 | 2016

HUD Proposes Smoke-Free Public Housing

400,000 New Yorkers May Receive Protection From Secondhand Smoke Pollution

Nearly one million households will receive protection from harmful secondhand smoke pollution in their homes if a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposal is implemented.

Announced in November 2015 by HUD Secretary Julián Castro with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, the proposed rule would provide smoke-free protections for families residing in public housing developments by requiring the nation’s more than 3,100 public housing agencies to implement a policy prohibiting lit tobacco products (cigarettes, cigars or pipes) in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings.

"We have a responsibility to protect public housing residents from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, especially the elderly and children who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases," said HUD Secretary Julián Castro in a statement. "This proposed rule will help improve the health of more than 760,000 children and help public housing agencies save $153 million every year in healthcare, repairs and preventable fires."

The proposed HUD rule would positively impact 400,000 New Yorkers in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments, where residents are much more likely to report smelling cigarette smoke in their homes that came from another apartment or outside than New Yorkers overall.

At HUD's invitation, NYC Smoke-Free director Patrick Kwan and deputy director Deidre Sully traveled to Washington, D.C. to join Secretary Castro and the Surgeon General at the White House Convening on Smoke-Free Housing to discuss the urgent need for smoke-free affordable and public housing as well as share NYC Smoke-Free’s experience in implementing smoke-free housing protections.

White House Convening on Smoke Free Public Housing

In New York City, luxury condos, co-ops and rentals are increasingly smoke-free. But New Yorkers who depend on NYCHA public housing and whose families are subjected to dangerous secondhand smoke pollution in their homes have few options but to stay where they are and endure the harmful exposure.

“Living free from the dangers of secondhand smoke should not be a luxury that is out of reach for any New Yorker, especially for NYCHA residents who are twice as likely to report having asthma as NYC adults and the more than one-third of NYCHA residents who report having one or more children with asthma,” wrote Kwan, in NYC Smoke-Free’s official comment on HUD’s proposed rule.

“Everyone – no matter where they live – deserves a chance to grow up in a healthy, smoke-free home,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy. "There is no safe level of secondhand smoke. So, when 58 million Americans – including 15 million children – are exposed to secondhand smoke, we have an obligation to act. That is what Secretary Castro is doing with this proposal."

The public comment period for HUD’s proposed rule on smoke-free public housing ended in January 2016. The final rule is expected by the end of 2016.

  • VIDEO: White House Convening on Smoke-Free Housing
  • VIDEO: WABC-TV Eyewitness News Up Close: Proposed Ban on Smoking in Public Housing
  • New York Times: Public Housing Nationwide May Be Subject to Smoking Ban
  • Newsweek: All Public Housing Complexes Soon Could Be Smoke-Free
  • Amsterdam News: Letter re: HUD Proposes Smoking Ban Across All Public Housing