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The idea is for smoking to be banned inside all 940,000 public housing units nationwide by late 2018. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD), has been pushing local public agencies to implement smoking bans, and in fact about 228,000 housing units were already smoke-free.

During the announcement, the HUD mentioned how second hand smoke can increase the risk of asthma and ear infections in children, amongst other things.
During last Wednesday’s announcement, administration officials spoke about the negative impact secondhand smoke has on children, pointing out that it can increase the risk of asthma, ear infections, and even sudden infant death syndrome. “Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful secondhand cigarette smoke,” said Castro.

This regulation prohibits “lit tobacco products” in all living units, indoor common areas, and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing units and administration offices. Public housing agencies have 18 months to implement the ban.

HUD distinguishes between tobacco and vaping products

To the surprise of many, electronic cigarettes do not fall under this ban, “research to date on [electronic cigarettes] is still developing and lacks clear consensus, in contrast with research on the effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products” , included the HUD’s announcement.

Research to date on [electronic cigarettes] is still developing and lacks clear consensus, in contrast with research on the effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products.Department for Housing and Urban Development

This is good news, as even though the FDA has regulated vaping products as tobacco products, the HUD is differentiating between the two. However, this rule also allows individual housing agencies to decide for themselves about e-cigarette use, hence giving them the authority to allow or ban vaping products in the buildings under their jurisdiction as they see fit.

All in favour of the smoking ban

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that when implemented this smoking ban will save housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs, preventable fires and health care expenses. This sum includes $16 million in costs associated with smoking-related fires. “Protecting people from secondhand smoke saves lives and saves money,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, adding, “No level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe, and the home is the primary source of secondhand smoke for children.”

Protecting people from secondhand smoke saves lives and saves money.Tom Frieden, Director at The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As expected The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is in favour of this ban, calling it a ” bold step” that will reduce smoking amongst the groups that are most susceptible to suffer from tobacco-related illnesses. However the organization pointed out that it thinks the HUD should have extended the ban to include electronic cigarettes.

A victory for Public Health

Ultimately, as previously mentioned, this ban and the exclusion of vaping products from it, come as a breath of fresh air to those anti-tobacco and health organizations who believe that vaping products are safer alternatives and effective smoking cessation tools, and have been campaigning relentlessly for them to be viewed as such. This regulation will be the first in a while, that is treating the two products differently in the US, so as far as many are concerned this has been a step forward in favour of Public Health.

Department of Housing and Urban Development [Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing]