Public housing residents in Louisville brace for federal smoking ban
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A federal rule that bans some people from smoking in or near their own homes is about to take effect.
It impacts public housing residents and workers, and it goes into effect on July 31.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development passed the smoking ban two years ago, and it's just now being implemented across the country.
"I don't think it's fair for them to stop us from smoking in our apartments and stuff and come outside, because a lot of us have disabilities," Michael Taylor said.
Taylor sat confined to wheelchair Wednesday afternoon with a cigarette in hand outside the Avenue Plaza apartments in downtown Louisville, where he lives.
"I have to say that I will come out," Taylor said. "I have to say that, but who who knows? There could be a time I really don't feel like moving, and I really want a cigarette."
There are already signs at complex warning neighbors smoking is banned, both in the building and within 25 feet of the doors. It applies to all residents, guests and workers.
"It won't affect me, because I am going to smoke," said Vivian Anderson, a public housing maintenance worker. "And If I want to smoke, I will just have to do across the street or wherever the designation is."
Lisa Osanka, the interim executive director of the Louisville Metro Housing Authority, said for violators, it starts with a warning, then a $15 fine, a $30 fine and several $45 fines. And for those who keep breaking the rules, the lease says they can be evicted.
"It will be policed by the property management in the same way any violation would be policed by the property management team," Osanka said.
Osanka admits that the ban presents its own challenges for property management.
"It will be difficult to enforce in private residences," she said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the ban should save public agencies more than $150 million a year in costs related to health care from secondhand smoke and losses from fires. There are 4,500 public housing units in Louisville.
"We have a responsibility to all of our residents," Osanka said.
Osanka said the ban will not apply to those in Section 8 homes.
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