No smoking: All public housing is going smoke-free

The rule will be implemented over the next 18 months.

All public housing developments are going smoke free.

The U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced this new rule Wednesday, noting the agency will give support to Public Housing Agencies across the country in order to implement these smoke-free policies over the next 18 months, a news release says.

The rule prohibits lit tobacco products (that's cigarettes, cigars and pipes) in all living units, indoor common areas, administrative offices, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and public housing offices.

"This change will help protect some of the most vulnerable people in our state – children and older adults – and will encourage more people to quit smoking," Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger said in a news release.

Not only will the program help eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, but it will also reduce the risk of fires, the Minnesota Department of Health said in the release. Careless smoking is the No. 1 cause of death and fires in the state of Minnesota, according to the State Fire Marshal's office. In 2015, careless smoking accounted for 27 percent of fire deaths.

More than 228,000 public housing units nationwide are already smoke-free, including every unit provided through the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, the releases say. Once this new rule is fully implemented, more than 940,000 public housing units will be smoke-free, including 760,000 units where children live.

There are approximately 1.2 million households nationwide living in public housing units that are managed by more than 3,000 Public Housing Agencies. The program aims to provide safe rental housing for eligible low-income families, the elderly and people with disabilities.

For more information of public housing in Minnesota, click here.

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