The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has banned smoking in all of its public housing units.
The board of commissioners adopted a smoke-free policy that brings a two-pronged approach to enforcement for new and existing apartments. The nation’s fourth-largest housing authority, PHA becomes the biggest to adopt a smoke-free policy.
“PHA is committed to improving the quality life to all our residents,” says Kelvin Jeremiah, PHA president and CEO. “This year alone, PHA has designated $100,000 for cessation programs.”
He notes that federal regulations are being drafted to mandate that public housing be smoke free. By acting now and in close cooperation with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), PHA and its residents hope to effectively establish a smoke-free environment through supportive measures and education before any federal mandates. Housing authorities in Boston and Houston have also adopted smoking bans.
“Our goal is not to evict and not to impose rules,” Jeremiah says. “It is to work cooperatively to end smoking outside of designated areas on PHA premises.”
The PHA board will evaluate the effectiveness of this approach after nine months.
The policy prohibits smoking as of Aug. 5 at all PHA properties (outside of designated smoking areas). It has two enforcement sections—one that applies to residents with leases at existing units, and another that applies only to units that are new construction or substantially rehabilitated, for residents entering into leases on or after Aug. 5.
At existing units, notices of violation will be issued, which emphasize the availability of cessation support. Data, such as the number of violations issued and how many residents sign up for and finish cessation classes, will be tracked for nine months. Site-based, smoke-free task forces will help educate residents about smoking cessation programs. Eviction will never be a consequence for violations issued under the new policy for residents in existing units.
The policy is tougher for future residents. At new units or substantially rehabilitated units where PHA has made major financial investment, residents entering into leases on or after Aug. 5 may face possible lease termination after the fourth violation of the smoking policy. In each instance, violators will receive cessation support and informational materials on cessation. The policy also allows for one violation to be erased.
No fines will be issued under the policy.
PHA serves nearly 80,000 residents.