SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – “Welcome to Smoke-Free Housing.” The words are on banners posted at properties ran by the Spartanburg Housing Authority.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is banning smoking on all public housing properties and with 25 feet of building entrances.
“I think that’s real ridiculous,” said SHA resident Rosemary Blocker. “As long as we’ve been living here and now they come talking about you can’t smoke?”
Impacted properties include Cambridge Place, Victoria Gardens, Archibald Rutledge Hi-Rise, Archibald Rutledge Village, Prince Hall Apartments, and Camp Croft Courts.
The policy applies to all employees, residents, household members, guests, and maintenance workers. SHA said the term “smoking” includes inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, pipes, or hookahs.
SHA said about 500 households are impacted, and approximately 50 percent of those homes have smokers.
Officials cite higher costs to renovate a smoker’s unit, an increased fire risk, and the impact on people’s health as reasons the ban was necessary.
“Creates a lot of health risks for person that smokes and also for second hand smoke to children and neighbors,” said Spartanburg Housing Authority CEO Terril Bates. “The cost of renovating units where someone has smoked in the building is significantly higher.”
7News talked with a lot of residents who said they do not like the new smoking rules. Some of the residents at Archibald Rutledge Hi-Rise said they’re okay with the smoking rules because they have designated smoking areas along with Archibald Village. Those are the only properties with designated smoking areas.
“Over the course of the past 18 months, we’ve really tried to educate the residents and offer some cessation courses,” said Jessica Holcomb, SHA Deputy Director of Asset Management and Special Projects.
Officials said they’ll continue trying to help residents quit but add they must enforce the new rules added to a resident’s lease.
“There are several opportunities for residents to get into compliance. We’re not looking to put people out where we don’t have to do that,” said Bates.
She said they’ll enforce the rules by looking at pictures sent with people in violation and that there are instruments they can use to test for smoking in a unit.
The use of e-cigarettes, nicotine inhalers, and vaping devices are also banned, unless a disabled resident’s unit is permitted to be a reasonable accommodation approved by SHA.
The Greenville Housing Authority said the new rules don’t apply to them, and that their properties were already smoke-free.