HUD announces new rule banning smoking in all public housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Wednesday the finalization of a rule that will ban smoking in all publicly subsidized housing units by May 2018.

The new policy will apply to more than 940,000 homes where occupants receive rent assistance, but could be overturned by the incoming Trump administration or through congressional legislation. Cigarettes, cigars and hookahs are also included in the ban, with electronic cigarettes being exempted.

“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harm secondhand smoke,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro in statement. “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 Prevention and Control, the new policy is estimated to save HUD and state public housing departments $153 million per year in damages otherwise done by smoking, including heath costs.

Over 100,000 fires per year across the country are estimated to be caused by smoking, which totals almost $500 million in property damage.

More than 228,000 federally subsidized housing units have already implemented smoking bans voluntarily or through local ordinances. The new HUD policy will also apply to areas within 25 feet of all designated residential structures, including administrative buildings.