Are E-cigarettes Included in the Public Housing Smoking Ban?
From 31 July, tobacco smokers won’t be able to light up in or near public housing, but vaping may still be permitted.
It is thought that e-cigarettes will still be allowed in the majority of public housing communities, however, it will probably be banned in places where legislation restricts the use of e-cigarettes in line with combustible cigarettes.
In the state of New York, for example, the Smoke-Free Air Act prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in places where smoking is also banned. This includes bars, restaurants, offices, parks and, from the end of this month, public housing.
Guidance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says that “electronic or e-cigarettes may also be banned indoors. Signs and other notices will help inform everyone of the rules.”
The plan was announced by HUD in 2016. The agency hopes that the new rules will "create healthy environments that encourage people who smoke to quit or attempt to reduce smoking.”
The smoking ban will be part of residents’ leases and tenants who break the rules could be evicted.
Smoking in restricted areas will not be a crime, but a civil violation. HUD is said to be setting up guidelines for local enforcement.
The nationwide ban will save public agencies an estimated $153 million every year in costs related to healthcare and preventable fires, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
HUD data reveals that one-third of public housing residents identify themselves as cigarette smokers. This is approximately double the rate of smoking in the general population.
They also found that public housing smokers were more likely than non-smokers to miss work, visit the emergency room and suffer from conditions such as lung disease, asthma, physical disabilities and serious psychological distress.
Switch to e-cigarettes
Now is the prefect time for public housing residents to make the switch to e-cigarettes because from the end of this month, lit cigarettes, cigars and pipes will need to be kept at least 25 feet away from buildings.
E-cigarettes have a number of other advantages over regular combustible cigarettes.
Most e-liquids contain nicotine, the addictive chemical found in tobacco, but e-cigarettes do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, which are two of the most harmful toxins found in combustible cigarettes.
Research reveals that e-cigarettes do contain some of the harmful toxins found in regular cigarettes, but at much lower levels. A report from Public Health England found that based on current evidence, e-cigarettes are 95% safer than regular tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are also significantly cheaper than tobacco cigarettes. Research from NerdWallet shows that disposable e-cigarettes will set you back an average of $1,387 per year if you are a pack-a-day smoker.
This is considerably less than the $2,569 it costs each year to smoke combustible cigarettes.
We’ve already said that you should be able to use e-cigarettes in public housing in places where no state or city legislation exists prohibiting their use. This counts for other places as well.
Some workplaces, bars and restaurants may set their own rules on the use of e-cigarettes, but you should still be able to use your e-cigarette in more locations than regular tobacco cigarettes.