All public housing will now be required to become smoke-free, according to a new rule announced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today in Boston.

The rule requires public housing agencies (PHAs) to implement a smoke-free policy over the next 18 months. Lit tobacco products—including cigarettes, cigars, and pipes—will be prohibited in all public housing units, indoor public housing common areas, PHA administrative buildings, and outdoor areas within 25 feet of housing and office buildings.

At this time, e-cigarettes are not covered under the no-smoking rule. The rule could be changed in years to come as more research and evidence come to light.

The ban is expected to reduce damage and maintenance costs associated with smoking as well as reduce the dangers of secondhand smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the policy will save PHAs $153 million annually in repairs and preventable fires, including $94 million in secondhand smoke–related health care, $43 million in renovated units where smoking was allowed, and $16 million in smoking-related fire losses.

“Secondhand smoke can migrate and move through a building, creating unhealthy living environments for nonsmokers. That’s why HUD’s rules are critical,” said Monica Valdes Lupi, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

HUD secretary Julian Castro said more than 600 PHAs and tribally designated housing entities already have smoke-free policies in place for over 228,000 public housing units. Once fully implemented, the no-smoking rule will impact an additional 940,000-plus public housing units, including those that serve more than 760,000 children.

“This new rule is a clear win for our children,” he added, “and a big win for families that will live in safer and healthier communities because of our new smoke-free rule.”

When asked how the PHAs would enforce the rule, Castro replied that HUD and the other PHAs that have already implemented no-smoking policies would provide guidance as would organizations like the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials and Council of Large Public Housing Authorities.

“We don’t see this policy ending with evictions,” he said. “We think staff can work with residents to avoid that.”

The smoke-free rule also will be complemented with resources to help residents quit smoking.

Castro also said he didn’t see the no-smoking rule being rolled back with the next administration.

“I am convinced that no matter the political persuasion of the administration, the public health benefit to this policy is tremendous and the resident support for going smoke-free is so tremendous that this rule will stick and that public housing will go smoke-free and remain smoke-free,” he said. “Because of that, so many folks are going to live healthier lives and have a better shot reaching their dreams because they are in good health.”