WASHINGTON (CBS) – Smoking in public housing across the U.S. is about to get snuffed out. A nationwide ban on smoking tobacco in public housing facilities will take effect at the end of July, nearly two years after the rule was passed by the Obama administration.
The U.S. Housing and Urban Development will prohibit the use of cigarettes, cigars and pipes in all public housing units and common areas, as well as any outdoor area within 25 feet of public housing grounds.
The new rule will expand the impact to more than 940,000 units.
Under HUD rules, tenants can be evicted after three smoking violations.
In announcing the ban, administration officials emphasized the dangers of secondhand smoke to children, saying it can increase the risk of asthma, ear infections, even sudden infant death syndrome.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful secondhand cigarette smoke,” HUD Secretary Julián Castro said.
The new rule gives public housing agencies 18 months to implement the ban.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the smoke-free policy will save housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs, preventable fires and health care costs. That amount 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. “No level of secondhand smoke exposure is safe, and the home is the primary source of secondhand smoke for children.”
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids applauded HUD’s actions, saying “this bold step” would reduce smoking among groups that suffer the most from tobacco-related death and disease. The organization said HUD also should have gone further and applied the ban to electronic cigarettes, though local housing authorities are permitted to do so.
For those who want help to quit smoking, officials recommend calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) toll-free to talk to a trained coach or go to www.smokefree.gov.