HUD announces ban on smoking in public housing

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced an outright ban on smoking inside public housing Wednesday.

The landmark decision will affect hundreds of thousands of Americans, and tens of thousands in New Jersey.

For longtime smokers like Jodi Bishop, of Newark, it's a new incentive to kick the habit.

"It's like trying to cap a volcano," Bishop says. "It's hard."

The ban includes apartments, and there are more than 38,000 units in the state alone.

It means someone like Ali Davis will no longer be able to smoke inside the apartment he's lived in for 20 years.

"It's much more concerns inside these apartments than smoking," Davis says.

In addition to the apartments, no smoking will be allowed in common areas, administrative offices, or within 25 feet of the buildings.

Members of New Jersey's anti-smoking group GASP say the decision included input from more than 1,000 public comments going back more than a year.

"70 percent of people who smoke want to quit," says Karen Blumenfeld, who's with the group. "It will change behavior of people who live in a unit that don't smoke who live with someone that does smoke. They will not be exposed to it."

Nearly a quarter-million housing units are already voluntarily smoke-free across the country, but this ruling will expand the impact to nearly a million residents.

"For one, I'm not a smoker," says Noelle Hairston. "Number two, it's bad for children, pregnant women. My daughter has asthma."

The new rule goes into effect in 18 months.

The agency estimates it will reduce damage and maintenance costs associated with smoking by more than $150 million every year.

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