Implementing a Smoke-Free Policy in Public Housing

On December 5, 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published its final rule, Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing. The rule requires housing authorities administering public housing programs to design and implement a local policy prohibiting the use of tobacco products in all public housing units, interior common areas, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of residential and office buildings. Housing authorities must have a smoke-free policy in place by July 30, 2018. Smoke-free policies will undoubtedly have a positive health impact on many public housing residents, including children, by reducing exposure to second-hand smoke and the negative effects of smoking tobacco. However, HUD’s final rule does not include procedural safeguards that protect tenants from smoking-related evictions and implementation is left largely to the discretion of individual housing authorities. Smoke-free policies therefore run the risk of placing tenants at an increased risk of homelessness and housing instability. In addition, smoking is an addiction that disproportionately impacts some populations more than others so the impacts on groups such as seniors and people with disabilities must be considered and closely monitored.

Regulations and Guidance

  • 24 CFR pt. 965—PHA-Owned or Leased Projects-General Provisions
  • 24 CFR pt. 966—Public Housing Lease and Grievance Procedure
  • 81 FR 87430—Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing