Smokers can no longer light up in or near public housing facilities in the U.S. due to a new rule that went into effect July 31. The nationwide ban on smoking in public housing was implemented nearly two years after the rule was passed by the Obama administration in 2016.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) now prohibits the use of cigarettes, cigars and pipes in all public housing units and common areas, as well as any outdoor areas up to 25 feet from public housing and administrative office buildings. The ban does not apply to e-cigarettes, snuff and chewing tobacco, although there may be restrictions on those in some areas.
HUD says about 228,000 public housing units under more than 600 local agencies were already smoke-free, and the new rule wipes out smoking in more than 940,000 other units. The ban is expected to save government housing agencies $153 million a year in repairs and health care costs, including $16 million for costs tied to smoking-related fires, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated in 2014.
HUD said the new policy would reduce health hazards from secondhand smoke and encourage residents to quit smoking.
The ban on smoking products must be included in public housing tenants’ leases, HUD says. Tenants will not be evicted for a single instance of smoking, but could face eviction after several smoking violations.
The smoking ban brought mixed opinion of public housing residents, Fox Carolina reports.
Linda Smith took her first drag of a cigarette as a teenager.
“I first started smoking, I got my mom’s cigarettes at the age of 16,” she said.
She lives in the Archibald Rutledge Apartments in Spartanburg.
“I used to be one and a half pack a day,” she said.
However, now because of some health issues and a new policy, she doesn’t really light up that much anymore.
“In a non-smoking facility, it helps a lot,” Smith said.
The complex is a Spartanburg Housing Authority property, which is funded by HUD, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Now, there’s a new non-smoking policy for its public housing properties.
“All public housing across the nation was to be smoke free,” Terril Bates said.
She’s the CEO of Spartanburg Housing Authority.
“HUD has generally done this in consideration for the health of the residents, the impact of second-hand smoke on children, on visitors and other persons in the building,” Bates said.
The new policy means smokers can no longer smoke inside the building and have to be at least 25 feet away from entrances and exits. Managers encourage residents to follow the new policy because there could be consequences for violators.
“There certainly will be warnings, there will be coaching, there will be referrals for those residents who want referrals to get help with smoking,” Bates said.
Wade Wilkins moved to Archibald nine years ago and has a few words about the new rule.
“Well, I don’t like it,” Wilkins said.
He’s smoked for more than 40 years.
“I feel if I pay rent here, I think I should be able to smoke in my apartment. It makes me wonder what’s next?” Wilkins asked. “It’s a big inconvenience, a big inconvenience.”
For Smith, it’s helped her stamp out the smokes.
In other news on welfare, a report has revealed that over half of foreigners living in the United States are on some sort of public assistance.
In a just-released study of welfare use by U.S. born Americans, naturalized citizens and non-citizen aliens, the Migration Policy Institute found that of the 22 million non-citizens in the country, 10.3 million are on at least one welfare program.
The report said that 54.2 percent of children and teens up to age 17 receive at least one of four major public welfare benefits while its 46.3 percent for those aged 18-54 and 47.8 for older aliens.
Get @MigrationPolicy estimates of public benefits use by noncitizens, naturalized citizens & U.S. born at U.S. and state levels here + by Hispanic & #AAPI race/ethnicity: https://t.co/QBnzlAOOYe pic.twitter.com/dzibWONuce
— MigrationPolicy Inst (@MigrationPolicy) June 12, 2018
By comparison, 32 percent of the U.S. born population of 270 million receive some welfare. Of those, 45.8 percent are children and teens, 30 percent are aged 18-54 and 22.5 percent are age 55 and older.
The report warns that the Trump administration is considering new rules that would make it difficult for immigrants to receive a green card if they or one of their dependents are receiving Medicaid, cash welfare, food stamps or Social Security benefits.
MPI estimates that the law would have a “chilling effect” on immigration and cut welfare use by aliens significantly, likely what the Trump administration wants to hear.
According to the report:
Although it is difficult to estimate precisely how many people would alter their behavior in response to the proposed change in public-chart policy, if immigrants’ use patterns were to follow those observed during the late 1990s there could be a decline of between 20 percent and 60 percent — and that even some members of groups exempt from the new rule [e.g. refugees] would likely withdraw from pubic programs.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
August 10th, 2018