Process started to phase in proposed public housing smoking ban

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – It’s been almost a year since the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a ban on smoking at public housing units.

“HUD is concerned as well about health issues,” said Spartanburg Housing Authority Executive Director Terril Bates. “It’s not only the person that’s smoking, but it’s the children that are impacted by second hand smoke.”

As for economic benefits, HUD officials say the rule would save public housing agencies more than $150 million every year in healthcare, preventable fires, and repairs.

“Smoke really damages a lot of the infrastructure,” said Bates.

The SHA has already started making changes to its leases and adding no smoking signs across complexes.

Some residents we spoke with didn’t want to talk on camera but aren’t too happy with the new rules.

“In just general discussion, the residents don’t like it. Some residents feel like it’s an infringement on their personal space. But many residents did understand that it was good for their health,” said Bates.

Signs now say no smoking within 25 feet of the building. They haven’t outright banned smoking inside the units as of yet, because the rule is still in the proposal phase.

“I would expect there’d be some option or opportunity for a warning for violations,” said Bates.

But like any lease, she says multiple violations would mean asking a resident to leave.

“It’s not our wish to punish them in any way but we’re charged with administering HUD programs in accordance with HUD regulation,” said Bates. “It would just be horrible to see someone lose their affordable housing over cigarettes.”

Bates says they’re also working on education efforts by partnering with the Forrester Group to help those wanting to quit.

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