HUD moves to make public housing tobacco free

November 30, 2016 05:52 PM

ALBANY -- For the nine years that Cindy Gentile has worked for the Albany Housing Authority, she's been a smoker.  But she quit, three and a half months ago, thanks to her job.

"I feel great, great," smiles Gentile from her desk as a Dispatcher.

Almost a year ago, Albany Housing banned smoking inside and within 25 feet of all its buildings.  The policy is what finally forced CIndy to quit.

"When the inconvenience was there and I had to ice skate 25 feet away to smoke or sit in my car, everyone is making this difficult, there's a reason why."

Albany Housing is ahead of the Federal Government.  Housing and Urban Development today announced a similar regulation requiring all its public housing communities across the country to transition to smoke-free environments.

"It's been an important goal to ban smoking in our apartments," explains Steve Longo, Director of the Albany Housing Authority.

The hope is, of course, that smokers like Cindy cut back or quit entirely.  But it's also to protect non-smoking residents, especially kids and asthmatics, from second hand smoke.

"It's about the smoke and not the smokers.  They are welcome to live in public housing and won't be discriminated against, it's just the behavior of smoking," maintains Jeanie Orr, of Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities.

The requirement also benefits tax payers.

"It will save in health care costs and also saves because turning over a unit that's been smoked in costs six times more," adds Orr.

Saving money and, presumably, people like CIndy who always wanted to quit but couldn't.

"It will (now) be forever," said Gentile.

Congress doesn't have to approve the regulation but it can over-ride it.  It has 60 days to take action but supporters of the ban hope it doesn't.

The regulation doesn't affect Section Eight apartments or, here in New York, Homes and Community Renewal buildings.

Advertisement – Content Continues Below


Abigail Bleck

Copyright 2016 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company