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HUD previews final rule on smoke-free public housing

Today on the Public and Indian Housing (PIH) home page, HUD posted an advance copy of its final rule on smoke-free public housing. The rule is pending publication in the Federal Register.

The final rule requires all PHAs to ban the use of prohibited tobacco products in living units, indoor common areas, and administrative offices. PHAs will have 18 months from the effective date of the final rule to implement smoke-free policies applicable to all indoor areas and to outdoor areas within 25 feet of buildings. PHAs may establish designated smoking areas or may ban smoking completely.

In the final version of the rule, HUD has clarified that the rule prohibits use of waterpipes (“hookahs”). Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) such as e-cigarettes are not prohibited under the rule, but PHAs may adopt policies banning them. PHAs that have already implemented voluntary smoke-free policies will need to update them only if their existing policies are not consistent with the minimum requirements of the final rule.

In a press release posted this morning, HUD Secretary Julián Castro commented on the final rule. Of the 1.2 million public housing units nationwide, 228,000 are currently smoke free. Once fully implemented, the smoke-free rule announced today would expand the impact to more than 940,000 public housing units, including more than 500,000 units inhabited by elderly residents and 760,000 children living in public housing.

In what appears to be a related development, HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) yesterday announced that it has scheduled a national stakeholder call with Secretary Castro. The call, which was announced in an email to the Healthy Homes mailing list, concerns “a major new step to protect the health and safety of our nation’s public housing residents.” It is scheduled for tomorrow, December 1, at 4 p.m. eastern time. Click here to RSVP for the call (use confirmation number 407550).