NASHVILLE: All public housing units across Tennessee and the U.S. will now smoke free starting today. The smoke-free rule is intended to decrease building maintenance and smoke-related damage costs, decrease the risk of accidental fires and create healthier environments by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a news release from the TN Department of Health (TDH).
The public housing smoking ban prohibits smoking tobacco products in all indoor common areas, administrative offices, living units and outdoor areas within 25 feet of the buildings. All current and incoming leaseholders are now required to sign a lease agreeing to the policy.
Nashville, however, will not enforce the new law which threatens eviction and will tack on a grandfathering exemption that lets current residents smoke.
Public housing residents in Nashville also recently signed leases that prohibited smoking but Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency spokeswoman Jamie Berry has said the housing authority will tack on a grandfathering addendum that lets current tenants smoke.
She says the housing authority wants to discourage smoking without threatening eviction. She says it’s “a better approach” to provide services to help tenants smoke less or quit. The MDHA also says ban doesn’t apply to Nashville because it recently took control of the properties from the federal government. MDHA’s six-year smoking ban at its high-rises will remain.
“Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke,” said Secretary Castro. “HUD’s smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities. By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD’s rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires.”
The policy, which was announced in December 2016 by the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the agency, allowed the nation’s more than 3,300 local public housing authorities 18 months to implement the policy. The rule excludes residents living in homes under the Housing Choice Voucher Program, formerly known as Section 8.
Free help to quit smoking is available through the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine, 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669, and is offered to all Tennesseans who would like support in their efforts to quit tobacco use. The call and all program services are provided at no cost to participants and kept confidential.
The Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine connects tobacco users to a trained quit counselor who helps each caller develop a personalized quit plan and provides ongoing one-on-one support and guidance to help them quit. Callers may also qualify for up to a two-week supply of nicotine replacement therapy patches at no charge.
The Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine is available seven days a week, with services offered in both English and Spanish. A language line is also available to accommodate callers who speak a language other than English or Spanish. Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine hours are Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. EST and Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. EST. Enrollment can also be completed online at www.tnQuitLine.org.
TDH also offers the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program to help pregnant women quit smoking. This program offers incentives including vouchers for diapers for each month a participating woman is smoke-free up to one year after her baby’s birth. Supporting family members such as dads can also participate. Contact your local health department for enrollment information or visit www.babyandmetobaccofree.org/find-a-location/tennessee/.