Smoking ban at public housing takes effect July 31

Public housing smoking ban starts July 31

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Smokers in public housing will need to find new places to light up.

Beginning July 31, they won't be able to do it in their own homes. That's when a new nationwide ban takes effect.

The feds say safety is the reason, but many in Richmond's public housing communities aren't happy about it.

Cigarette smokers may pick up the habit for different reasons, but those who live public housing will all be required to put their cigarettes out for the same reason - at least while they're at home.

"This is a policy to stop smoking at public housing communities," said Orlando Artez with Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority (RRHA). "It's a policy that we have no choice but to implement."

The ban comes from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. By July 31, public housing communities nationwide will be smoke-free.

The policy says you must be at least 25 feet from any public housing property to smoke.

RRHA says the issue has been discussed here in Richmond.

"We've had complaints about smoking for many many years," said Artez.

Residents say the smoke often goes from one apartment to another - which can be particularly problematic for young residents.

"We have a number of children who have asthma, and the effects of second-hand smoke have been well documented," said Artez.

Several residents say the ban is unfair and takes away one of their rights. RRHA says this type of policy is pretty common.

"A number of apartment complexes and private communities have a no-smoking rule in place, and people respect those," said Artez.

Even though it'll be an adjustment, RRHA expects the impact will be felt immediately.

"It's to the overall benefit and health to the families and individuals who live there," said Artez.

The RRHA says they have no plans to offer a designated area for residents and employees to smoke. Instead, they're holding classes to encourage people to quit smoking.

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