GRAFTON—Some changes are coming to smoking policies for some Taylor County residents.
Starting July 31, 2018, properties owned by the Grafton Housing Authority will be implementing a smoke-free policy at its three locations.
The locations include the Elizabeth Cather Towers, Sunset Terrace and Grafton Homes.
At these locations, residents will not be allowed to smoke inside their units. They will have to smoke 25 feet away from all buildings and 50 feet from the playgrounds.
The smoke-free policy is being implemented by a new policy being enforced by Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
According to www.hud.gov, on December 5, 2016, HUD published a final rule for each Public Housing Agency administering low-income, conventional public housing to initiate a smoke-free policy.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro today announced that public housing developments in the U.S. will now be required to provide a smoke-free environment for their residents.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” said Castro. “HUD’s smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities.”
“By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD’s rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires,” added Castro.
Furthermore, HUD’s smoke-free rule will reduce damage and maintenance costs associated with smoking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HUD’s national smoke-free policy will save public housing agencies $153 million every year in repairs and preventable fires, including $94 million in secondhand smoke-related health care, $43 million in renovation of smoking-permitted units and $16 million in smoking-related fire losses.
The press release also stated that it is estimated that smoking causes more than 100,000 fires each year nationwide, resulting in more than 500 deaths and nearly half a billion dollars in direct property damage.
The effective date of the Rule is February 3, 2017, and it provided an 18-month implementation period. All public housing agencies must have a smoke-free policy in place by July 31, 2018.
Last Wednesday, representatives from the Grafton Housing Authority held town-hall meetings at all three locations to allow tenants to ask questions about the new policy.
At the meetings, Administrative Assistant Paula Robinson and Executive Director Frank Mayle answered questions and explained why the policy is being implementing.
During the meeting, Robinson shared that 65% of air can be exchanged between housing units.
“Implementing a successful smoke free multi-unit housing policy is the only way to eliminate the risk of secondhand smoke in the home to all your family, friends and neighbors,” she voiced.
Robinson explained that the housing authority is not saying that residents have to quit smoking, but with the new rule they will not be able to smoke in their units.
In July, as required by HUD regulations, all head of households and family members on the lease must sign an addendum to their current lease stating that the policy was explained to them and that they understand and will abide by the new policy.
“As with any of our lease terms and policies, it is the responsibility of the Head of Household to make sure all guest, visitors and family members abide by this new policy,” said Mayle. “Failure to do so can lead to your eviction.”
In addition, the Grafton Housing Authority is available to assist any residents with information to help them quit smoking, if they choose to.
If you have any questions, please call the Grafton Housing Authority at 304-265-1045.