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U.S. Proposes A Ban On Smoking In Public Housing

Nearly 1.2 million public would need to become "entirely smoke-free," under a new rule put forth by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro Thursday.

The proposed rule would give more than 3,100 public housing agencies 18 months to ban cigarettes, cigars, and pipes in all living units, indoor common areas, and within 25 feet from buildings. The ban would also apply to administrative offices.

The change would add nearly 1 million public housing units to the more than 228,000 units that are already smoke-free, according to HUD.

Announcing the proposed rule alongside Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy today, Castro cited both the health risks of smoking and the costs of preventable fires.

"We have a responsibility to protect public housing residents from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, especially the elderly and children who suffer from asthma and other respiratory diseases," Castro said. "This proposed rule will help improve the health of more than 760,000 children and help public housing agencies save $153 million every year in healthcare, repairs and preventable fires."

A HUD news release says that those numbers come from a 2014 CDC study, which broke down the potential savings of a smoking ban like this:

  • $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care;
  • $43 million in renovating smoking-permitted units;
  • $16 million in smoking-related fire losses.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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