For Immediate Release - April 03, 2014

Patrick Administration Announces Smoke Free Guidelines for State-Aided Public Housing Units

BOSTON – April 3, 2014 – The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) today issued guidelines to all local housing authorities for implementing smoke-free housing policies within their state-aided public housing units.

“The impacts of smoking and second-hand smoke are important health issues,” said Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development. “We encourage housing authorities to adopt smoke-free housing policies in state-aided public housing units to protect the health of residents from second hand smoke, prevent fires and fire related deaths from smoking, and reduce unit turnover costs.”


"Smoke-free indoor air policies are an effective way of reducing exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, RN. “I applaud the Department of Housing and Community Development for taking leadership on this issue and helping to protect the health of Massachusetts residents.”


The guidelines released to housing authorities today include a list of agencies and resources that are available to assist housing authorities in developing and implementing new policies.  Smoke-free policies would prohibit tenants from smoking in the housing authority’s building and units.


Local housing authorities cannot limit applications for housing to applicants that do not smoke, nor can they force a tenant to quit smoking in order to maintain their continued occupancy of state-aided public housing, as long as they do not smoke in any of the authority’s buildings or units. In addition, the local housing authority must have information regarding smoking cessation programs and resources available to tenants that express an interest in quitting.


“MassNAHRO applauds the Department for providing local housing officials with meaningful guidance in implementing smoke free policies in public housing,” said Tom Connelly, Executive Director of MassNAHRO. “Smoking is a serious safety and quality of life issue for all residents. Local smoke free housing policies will address public health issues, reduce maintenance and insurance costs, lessen property loss by fire, and prevent personal injuries.”   


“Exposure to second-hand smoke can have serious health consequences, so we are encouraged by these new guidelines, which will greatly support local housing authorities in protecting the health of all their residents,” said Marc Draisen, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). “We are glad to partner with DHCD in this first step toward promoting smoke-free housing in Massachusetts.”


Since 2008, the Patrick Administration has taken action to protect and strengthen the safety net that state-aided public housing’s 45,600 units provides for our state’s most vulnerable families, seniors and people with disabilities. These initiatives are a part of a broader strategy being implemented to reform the state’s public housing system. Other reforms have included requiring local housing authorities to provide DHCD with the salaries of the five highest-paid management staff and setting a maximum salary for local housing authority executive directors.