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Smoking ban coming for Colorado Springs and Fountain public housing tenants

March 27, 2017 Updated: March 27, 2017 at 2:55 pm
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photo - Smoking (iStock)
Smoking (iStock) 

The Colorado Springs and Fountain housing authorities plan to go smoke-free..

The housing agencies' moves come after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced a rule mandating all public housing units ban smoking within 25 feet of buildings.

The change - which aims to curb second-hand smoke - won't come for some time. The nation's 3,100 public housing authorities have until July 30, 2018 to implement the ban.

"Hopefully, we'll have some tenants that take this opportunity and kind of decide now's the time they want to quit," said Mike Burks, Colorado Springs Housing Authority's deputy director.

The policy applies to all living units, indoor common areas, offices and outdoor areas within 25 feet of public housing authority buildings, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Cigarettes, pipes and cigars are banned. However, e-cigarettes are not.

Smoking remains the leading cause of death among Coloradans - killing more than 5,000 people every year, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

A study by the American Lung Association of Colorado found such policies limit exposure to secondhand smoke, reduce acute health issues and help people quit smoking.

Already, nearly two-dozen public housing entities across Colorado have already adopted such policies.

The ban applies to the Colorado Springs Housing Authority's 707 public housing units. It does not, however, apply to its Section 8 housing voucher program, Burks said.

He said the agency plans to hand out pamphlets and fliers with information on how to quit smoking.

The housing authority also plans to host meetings to get tenants' input on the ban, and where to place designated smoking areas.

The federal rule allows housing authorities to go beyond the 25-foot smoking ban, meaning they make their entire properties smoke-free, or also ban e-cigarettes.

Burks said he wants to hear from tenants on if those additional measures are wanted.

"This has just come out," Burks said. "We're getting feedback from a lot of different directions to try to make the best decision for our tenants."

Only the Fountain Housing Authority's 40-unit public housing complex, 906 Grinde Dr. in Fountain, must go smoke-free. The policy will likely be implemented by Jan. 1, said Katherine Roby, the Fountain Housing Authority's director.

"We're really just at the beginning stages," Roby said.

The Calhan Housing Authority, the El Paso County Housing Authority and the Manitou Springs Housing Authority are not subject to the ban, due to their ownership and financing structure, a state health department spokesman said.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter: @jakobrodgers

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