Residents react to smoking ban on public housing properties in Houston


With her grandkids watching, Regine Russell lights up on her porch.

"One of my grandchildren has asthma, so I smoke outside," she said.

But even outside her door, Russell is technically in violation of a new non-smoking policy instituted by the Houston Housing Authority.

In a news conference Monday, authorities emphasized residents can no longer smoke inside their homes, nor within 25 feet of a main entrance.

'We're hopeful it won't result in evictions, but we weren't going to let the difficulty of enforcement stop us," Tory Gunsolley with HHA said.

HHA will start enforcing the policy in March at all 25 of his housing communities. More than 5,000 families will be affected, and continued non-compliance could lead to evictions.

For non-smokers in these public housing communities, the new policy is enthusiastically embraced.

"I do welcome this no ban on smoking because I think it's healthier for us and our kids, and really they're looking out for us," Judy Bryant said.

Smokers see it differently.

"I just think it's wrong because people have been smoking for years, decades; we've never came in a situation where we had to not be able to smoke in our homes," Tony Parker said.

The housing authority says it will offer smoking cessation classes and other programs to help residents kick the habit and comply. Russell says she may not like it, but plans to cooperate.

"I guess we have to agree to agree with it," she said. "Nothing we can do about it."

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