Local redevelopment and housing authorities taking steps to become smoke-free

NORFOLK, VA. - Tobias Waff has been a smoker for nearly a decade.

But soon he won’t be able to light up inside his Youngs Terrace apartment in Norfolk, whether he likes it or not.

“I believe if you pay your bills you should be able to smoke. Anytime, anywhere. Just because it’s there property doesn’t mean they have the right to tell you so much of what to do,” Waff told News 3.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a new rule requiring public housing developments across the country become smoke-free.

“The majority of the residents we’ve worked with have embraced the smoking ban policy,” Kimberly Thomas with Norfolk’s Redevelopment and Housing Authority said.

Banning tobacco products is something Thomas said they’ve been studying for years.

“We are talking about the quality of care and the quality of life and the children are the main focus here. We have lots of kids who lives in a unit where a parent or a guardian smokes or maybe even a neighbor may smoke and that really exacerbates things like asthma,” Thomas explained.

Another reason is to save millions of dollars in preventable property damage.

NRHA staff say they understand it may be difficult for some of their tenants to quit smoking, so they’re gonna soon start rolling out programs to help people kick their habit.

“Those folks who do want to stop smoking we have some opportunities for our public housing residents to enter into peer support groups as well as us having a structured program in place,” Thomas told News 3.

People aren’t being required to stop smoking.

People can still smoke - just at least 25 feet away from the buildings.

As for penalties, Thomas said they are still figuring out the details.

Properties nationwide must be smoke-free by August 2018.