Can smoking evictions do no harm?

Posted On: February 11, 2019

Smoking evictions cited as a risk for instability

HUD’s smoking ban in public housing may have upset a number of smokers in your Public Housing community. Across the country, many believed there would be numerous evictions of those who could not (or would not) abide by HUD’s new rule. In an op-ed on, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)  talked about balancing safety and stability with good health and well-being. The foundation argues evicting residents who violate the smoke-free policy do more harm than good.

Safety and stability are both essential elements of a healthy home. A safe, stable, affordable home is a critical foundation for good health and well-being. Stability not only provides families with consistent, predictable access to schools, jobs and social connections but also with the ability to plan beyond tomorrow. Conversely, housing instability creates disruption and anxiety for families and their children. Evictions can result in disruptions of work, school, support networks of families and friends, and health and other services. -RWJF

Tips to balance health with safety and stability

The writers of the article believe Public Housing Agencies can be proactive in enforcing the ban and helping residents. For example, training “property managers to connect residents to the Illinois Tobacco Quitline and other smoking-cessation services.” Another example they cite is posting “signs, including window clings and door hangers, to notify residents of the smoke-free policy, provide contact information for the state quit line and share tips for quitting.”

The foundation offers a list of strategies too avoid smoking evictions, including:

  • Not using fines to enforce the rule.
  • Providing residents with at least three warnings, and, at each, sharing culturally appropriate information on how to access cessation services and nicotine replacement therapies.
  • Allowing residents who are violation-free for a several months to “reset” so that new violations count as the first, or allowing them to clear violations from their record by attending a cessation class or calling a quit line.

You can read the full list here.

Related Articles:

 Check out the Smoke-Free issue of our award-winning “Navigating Public Housing” newsletter.


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