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Houston Housing Authority implements no smoking policy

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

Sure, there are no smoking signs in public places but now certain residents won't be allowed to smoke inside their own home. 

This new policy has some people applauding, some fuming and others downright fired up. 

"It's not right.  I think it's all wrong because we pay our bills and we ought to have the right to smoke or anything else we want to do in our house," says one public housing resident.

The Houston Housing Authority's new rule prohibits residents and their visitors from smoking inside an apartment.  This policy impacts 5,500 families in all 25 Houston public housing properties.

We stopped by Cuney Homes Apartments and saw no smoking signs outside the leasing office.  The residents we spoke with are all aware of the new policy prohibiting smoking  inside apartments as well.  "It's unfair but rules are rules," said one woman.

"I want to be clear.  We are not attacking the smokers.  It is about the smoke," says Donna Dixon with the Houston Housing Authority. 

Dixon says this is already being done in several cities across the country.  Now here in Houston the housing authority adopted the new smoke free policy as part of an effort to keep kids from second hand smoke.

"Also third hand smoke is the smoke that settles on surfaces, carpets.  Babies that are on carpets are constantly being exposed to that smoke.  People don't realize it isn't just asthma and bronchial infections, second hand smoke causes SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  It's very, very dangerous.  Smoke tends to drift from unit to unit.  Just because somebody wants to smoke in their unit doesn't mean the person next to them has to smoke as well," explains Dixon.

At all 25 Houston public housing properties smoking will not be allowed inside the apartments, in any common areas such as the rental office and smoking will be prohibited within 25 feet of all main entryways.

So how will the housing authority enforce this new no smoking policy?  "We're going to monitor it and enforce it just like any other lease violation.  It may not be easy and it's going to take some time," Dixon says.

The Houston Housing Authority is also helping tenants kick the habit.  Any resident who wants to stop smoking and needs help doing it can contact their property manager or the Houston Housing Authority to be enrolled in a free program to quit smoking.

This new smoke free policy went into effect Jan 1, 2014.  The housing authority will start enforcing it March 1, 2014.  Violators will be at risk of eviction.

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