Public Housing Across U.S., Athens, Smoke-Free

Jul 30, 2018

Public housing across the nation becomes smoke-free this week. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development implemented the rule in November 2017. It bans includes all combustible tobacco products and applies to all residences, offices, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and office buildings. While the rule officially went into effect July 30, in Athens, the ban started on July 1st. (Full Story)

“It means we are totally smokeless, so individuals are not able to smoke in their dwelling units," according to Marilyn Appleby, Communications Director for the Athens Houseing Authority. "They may not smoke on the grounds and that would even include if they have a car parked in one of our parking lots, they can’t go to the car and smoke there because that’s still the grounds.”

Appleby says the agency began preparing Athenians early in the process.

Athens Housing Authority
Credit Athens Housing Authority

“We started educating our residents during community meetings about what was going to happen, we used our newsletter to discuss the issues, we started in November, we redid meetings in January and then again in April, early May. We talked about it again to let them know this was indeed coming.”

According to HUD classifications, there are 10 public housing units in Athens, with 1150 families living in them.

According to a media release from the American Lung association, the new rule is intended protect nearly two million Americans nationwide from being exposed to secondhand smoke in their home, that includes 690,000 children.

The ALA says secondhand smoke can travel between homes in multi-unit housing, vis doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, and ventilations systems. In Georgia the new rule impacts residents in 188 public housing agencies.

Damaging health effects include lung cancer, respiratory infections, worsened asthma symptoms, heart attacks and strokes.