Smoking anywhere inside New York City Housing Authority buildings, and in public housing across the country, will be illegal at some point during the next 18 months.
The new rule, designed to to minimize health and fire risks, will impact 400,000 NYCHA residents, according to the advocacy group NYC Smoke-Free. Smoking causes 100,000 fires across the country every year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development said.
“Living free from the dangers of secondhand smoke will no longer be a luxury out of reach for New Yorkers who depend on NYCHA public housing,” said NYC Smoke-Free Director Patrick Kwan in a news release.
Residents at the Dyckman Houses told Metro they support the measure.
“Considering the fire over there last week, I’m totally for it,” 23-year resident Yvette Ortega said.
Gordon Turner said he will be happy to say goodbye to the “smell of smoke in the hallways, and the bad mood,” it creates.
Smokers’ rights advocates contend that the law is a violation of rights.
“You’re taking advantage of [the tenants’] position because they can’t afford a private house so they can’t smoke,” Audrey Silk, founder of the New York City Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment told the New York Post last year.
HUD Secretary Julian Castro said that the penalties will not include eviction. The agency is giving housing authorities up to 18 months to implement the ban.
“We don’t see this as a policy that is meant to end in a whole lot of evictions,” Castro told reporters in a conference call this week.