Starting Tuesday, all public housing facilities across the country must have a smoke-free policy in place.
As part of a national ban on all lit tobacco products — such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipes — it’s now prohibited to smoke within 25 feet of public housing and their administrative office buildings. It doesn’t apply to e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco.
In November 2016, then U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro announced the effort to provide all public housing residents, including children, with a “safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke.”
“HUD’s smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities,” Castro said in a news release. “By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD’s rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HUD’s national smoke-free policy will save public housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs and preventable fires, including $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units, and $16 million in smoking-related fire losses.
In Fort Worth, the ban will go into effect starting Wednesday, according to Fort Worth Housing Solutions president Mary-Margaret Lemons. FWHS adopted its policy in September 2017 and it affects its two public housing properties, Butler Place Apartments and Cavile Place Apartments. It doesn’t, however, govern any of the other mixed-income housing properties that FWHS owns.
“Residents have been required to sign new leases acknowledging the new policy and staff will continue to provide smoking cessation program information to residents as requested,” Lemons said.
According to 2016 data from County Health Rankings, 15 percent of adults in Tarrant County were current smokers, nearly on par with the state of Texas at 14 percent.
The City of Fort Worth and the county have been taking steps in the last few years to reduce smoking and tobacco consumption in public places. In May, the city expanded its 2017 smoking ordinance to include public parks and that will go into effect on Aug. 15. It previously only prohibited smoking in bars, bingo parlors and retail smoke shops within 300 feet of schools, universities and hospitals.
The city of Arlington adopted its own smoking ban in 2017 and updated it further in May 2018.