2015-11-18 / Front Page

Smoking Ban Poses Question Of Enforcement

By Liz Goff
Federal housing officials last week announced a “smoke free zone” plan that would ban tenants from smoking in their apartments and in other restricted areas in housing projects throughout the city.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) unveiled the plan on November 10, saying the plan would not go into effect immediately. Officials said they would work with tenants, and would schedule a series of public hearings within the next 60 days where tenants can voice their concerns.

The HUD proposal bans the use of all lit tobacco products n apartments, common areas, offices and outdoor spaces located within 25 feet of buildings in the housing projects, including the Ravenswood, Woodside, Astoria and Queensbridge Houses in western Queens.

Tenants at the Queensbridge Houses, the largest public housing project in the nation, expressed mixed reactions to news of the smoking ban.

Terrence Davies, 33, said he agrees with the ban because it will help protect young children and the elderly from exposure to second-hand smoke. “It’s a good idea, but who is going to enforce it?” Davies said.

Long time Queensbridge tenant Rodney Owens said the plan infringes on his rights. “Who are these people to tell me what I can and can’t do in my own apartment?” Owens said. “I’ll keep on smoking if I want to, because no one is gonna chase me down to make me stop.”

“NYCHA has a problem keeping lobby doors locked,” another tenant said. “Where are they going to find enough resources to enforce this ban, and who is going to enforce it? I don’t think it’s a good idea to get the police involved in this,” the woman said.

HUD officials said smoking in restricted areas would likely be enforced by tenant patrols who would issue a violation to offenders.

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