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What impact could smoking bans have on your housing?

Housing providers have started banning smoking in residential buildings. The bans prohibit residents smoking in their units or outside of designated smoking areas. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development supports these bans in the interest of residents’ health and minimizing repair costs. 1

Public housing authorities (PHAs) in the five counties served by the Legal Aid Society may soon implement a smoking ban given HUD’s proposed “Smoke Free Public Housing” rule from November 2015. 2 Even in regions with relatively low smoking rates, such as Cuyahoga, 3 many citizens may be exposed to the health risks associated with smoking if they live or work in a smoking building.

If you live in a building considering a smoking ban, you may have the opportunity to voice your opinions about the ban. Look for signs or notices of a residents’ meeting within your building regarding a smoking ban. A residents’ meeting may be your best opportunity to speak directly to the PHA about the ban.

Another option for Cleveland residents to express their opinion is to contact the Cleveland Tenants Organization (CTO). CTO advocates for affordable and fair rental accommodations. 4 Tenants’ groups will be interested in working with PHAs to draft the ban because violations by tenants or tenants’ guests may result in a lease violation or even eviction. If you would like to speak with someone at CTO regarding a smoking ban, call (216) 432-0617.

Finally, if your building creates a smoking ban, be aware of your responsibilities. You may be asked to sign a lease addendum regarding the policy during a recertification meeting. 5 Read all documents carefully and ask your property manager any questions you have during that meeting. You may also request copies of the paperwork to review later or to discuss with a tenant advocate. Clarify when the new policy takes effect, and what is expected of tenants. You should also know the potential penalties for violating the ban so you can be sure to follow the new rules once effective.

1 Change Is In The Air: An Action Guide for Establishing Smoke-Free Public Housing and Multifamily Properties, Department of Housing and Urban Development, p. 10-17 (2014).
2 Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing, 80 Fed. Reg. 71,762 (Nov. 17, 2015)
3 Ellen Jan Kleinerman, “Cuyahoga County smoking rate is lowest in Ohio.” The Plain Dealer,
September 15, 2010. Electronic access here.
4 “Mission & Values”, (2015).
5 Change Is In The Air, p. 63

By Abigail Pink

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