Before Virginia implemented the smoking ban in restaurants, one of the projects the GRVAAQC took on each year was outreach to individual establishments encouraging them to ban smoking. The impacts of secondhand smoking – to say nothing of the firsthand effects! – are significant on lungs, particularly on the lungs of children and the elderly. Working to limit exposure was an important part of what we did.
Now, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Developing is proposing rules that would ban smoking in the almost one million public housing units that fall under their dominion, allowing only for the establishment of smoking areas at least 25 feet away from the main residences.
A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that a nationwide smoke-free public housing policy would result in annual cost savings of about $153 million, including $94 million in health care, $43 million in reduced costs for painting and cleaning smoke-damaged units, and $16 million in averted fire losses.
If the prohibition moves through, enforcement is expected to be a major sticking point in the new rules.