Smokers split on public housing smoking ban

Smokers living in public housing will soon have to find a new place to light up.

Beginning July 31, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is banning smoking from public housing facilities.

It means no smoking cigarettes, cigars or pipes inside buildings or within 25 feet of them.

The ban was first announced two years ago, but is just now going into effect.

HUD says the rule change is to protect people from hazards like secondhand smoke and will also hopefully encourage smokers in public housing to quit.

“I just feel like it’s going to cause a lot more drama. People that don’t come outside, now you’re forcing them to come outside just to smoke? That’s too much,” said Sharenia Chesson.

Chesson, who smokes, lives in Lassiter Court, a public housing complex run by the Newport News Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

NNRHA Executive Director Karen Wilds tells News 3 the organization instated a smoking ban in city public housing earlier this month, but began offering programs to help residents quit when the new rules were first announced in 2016.

Wilds says she’s a former smoker herself and knows quitting isn’t easy. She says the NNRHA won’t be too strict in enforcing the rules at first and will, in part, rely on maintenance staff visiting the residences to report violations.

Last year, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority told News 3 banning tobacco products was something it had been studying for years and such a ban could also prevent millions of dollars in property damage.

“People don’t want cigarette smoke in their house, anyway,” said Marcus Britton, a ten-year resident of Lassiter Court, who says he’s fine with the ban.

According to the NNRHA policy, multiple violations of the new rules could lead to eviction. HUD rules specify three violations.

Click here for more information on the HUD smoking ban.