Houston officials ban smoking inside public housing facilities


Officials with the Houston Housing Authority and the City of Houston Health and Human Services as well as Mayor Annise Parker say they are implementing a smoke-free policy at 25 public housing and tax credit properties in an effort to protect non-smokers, including children.

The new rules prohibit smoking inside units, in the office, in common areas or within 25 feet of a doorway.

Punishment for violators could get nasty; it will be a lease violation, and residents could be evicted. The HHA president says he doesn't want it to get to that point, and they're still "working though this."

Residents know about this new rule. They had to sign an addendum to their leases, agreeing not to smoke in prohibited areas.

"It will be really inconvenient. Like right now, it's cold outside and people have got to come outside to smoke their cigarettes. It's going to interfere with people's lifestyles," non-smoker Latoya Smith said.

The purpose is to help smokers to kick the habit and save money. The HHA president says it costs to to three times more to turn over a smoker's apartment versus that of a non-smoker when you figure in repainting, stripping and re-sealing floors.

"In the privacy of your own home, I don't see why you couldn't smoke," visitor Rondale Nutall said.

Jeff Crawford, who was visiting someone at a public housing facility, says it's more about interfering with his choice to spend three minutes outside, even in the freezing cold.

"I guess they want to see people not smoking for health reasons, but I feel like if people are paying their rent that they should be able to smoke in their unit," Crawford said.

The Houston Housing Authority president says if you're caught smoking where you're not supposed to, it's a lease violation and residents could ultimately be evicted.

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