HUD to Decide Fate on Vaping in Public Housing

All public housing projects will soon be smoke-free after a long awaited proposal was made earlier this month by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Provided there are no further setbacks or challenges, this law will go into effect early 2017. Clearing the smoke from public housing seems like a healthy move, but smokers and vapers both face the threat of eviction if they decide to take a puff in a designated non-smoking area. 

As it stands, the proposed rule doesn’t say anything explicit about vaping in public housing. However, HUD has requested input on whether or not to include vaping devices in the ban. The department will issue its final statement after a 60-day public comment period, but vaping rights are already being threatened by the usual groups.

Long time opponents of vaping, the American Lung Association and the Campaign for Tobacco Free-Kids are claiming the use of electronic cigarettes should be included in the proposed smoking ban by HUD. Their reasoning being that e-cigs still emit nicotine and particles into the air.

Many people who rely on public assistance, including housing, happen to be smokers. In fact, about 29 out of every 100 adults who live below the poverty line smoke. That’s close to 30% of all impoverished citizens in America smoke tobacco. Once this law goes into effect all those who smoke in public housing or designated non-smoking areas could possibly be evicted. Seems like good motivation to quit smoking, right? But is this ban even enforceable?

Why move to also ban vaping in public housing? We know all too well the devastating effects cigarettes have on the body as well as our environment. So, if this really is an issue concerning public health, shouldn’t we be helping these people get off of cigarettes instead of threatening them with eviction? Being evicted poses it’s own plethora of public health risks. This brings up so many other issues that we just don’t have time for in one blog post. For example, shouldn’t housing authorities be responsible for placing residents where they won’t face a lot of lease violations, or worse: eviction?

With recent data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suggesting that e-cigs are helping smokers to quit why would we deny such a large population of people the right to vape? Tobacco and poverty are undoubtably and unfortunately linked. Studies have shown that even in the poorest of households, spending on tobacco products often represents over 10% of total household expenditures.

According to the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative,

“Tobacco and poverty have become linked in a vicious circle, through which tobacco exacerbates poverty and poverty is also associated with higher prevalence of tobacco use. Several studies from different parts of the world have shown that smoking and other forms of tobacco use are much higher among the poor.” 

For pack-a-day smokers you’re easily looking at a couple thousand dollars spent each year on cigarettes. We know that smoking is an expensive habit, one that could even cost you your life. So why include electronic cigarettes in this ban? Banning vaping devices will not only discourage these smokers from switching to a likely less harmful alternative, it takes away one of the best options for people looking to save money yet still satisfy their nicotine cravings.

This eviction-backed ban is just another means for the government to deny the impoverished people of our country access to public assistance. It seems the War on Poverty has definitely changed. It concerns me that we are fighting a war against the poor instead of for them.

Here at Mt Baker Vapor, we applaud any effort to get people off of cigarettes. But it’s about time for organizations like the Department of Housing and Urban Development to stop micromanaging lives from afar and start helping. What is the best way to help people living below the poverty line? This is a difficult question, but banning vaping is definitely not the answer.

Tim Mechling

Tim is Mt Baker Vapor's resident creative weirdo. He writes, composes music, draws, designs, produces podcasts, investigates, and blows the trumpet for the Common Man.

  • Jonathan G says:

    I really don’t agree with either bans. This is Government Over Reach. Period.

  • Pat says:

    I was forced into signing the ban vapor agreement added to My lease without a warning or be evicted. I’m disabled and have nowhere else to live. My rights have been violated.

  • Bob says:

    I actually started vaping to quit smoking. The day I started vaping was the last time I picked up a cigarette. I have been decreasing the nicotine level in the juice I buy. I have gone from 18mg , to 12, and am down to 6 currently. I also vape less than I smoked. My sense of smell and taste has greatly increased. Why would a government agency try to ban people from doing this. Vapping has been good for me overall and there will come a time in the next few months that I will be down to no nicotine, not to mention the 100 other harmful chemicals in cigarettes. Yes vaping is not a perfect health solution. What makes HUD think they are guards of the kingdom and the financially burdened. My family greatly support what I am doing in quiting smoking….and don’t mind at all if I do it in mine or their homes….and they don’t smoke. Enough about me. HUD needs to back off. Even though I don’t live in HUD housing, they are wrong about the gaping clauses!

  • Sam says:

    Now that they have got the tobacco products in vaping out of public housing I’d be willing to bet next is alcohol as it would be logical because of the damage that it is known to do to a person’s health the domestic violence that is known to cause or enhance

    • Tim Mechling says:

      That’s a complicated issue! There’s been a give-and-take relationship between the government and its citizens since ancient Sumeria. What can the state prohibit? How do they enforce it? At what point must the disgruntled populace rise up against the ruling class with torches and pitchforks? I don’t have answers to these questions. Thanks for furthering the discussion, Sam!

  • Marsha Garner says:

    I was lighting a cigarette about to take it out side to smoke a maintenance man comes in to fix something tells the office I’m smoking inside I got wrote up

  • I was lighting a cigarette to go outside and smoke a maintenance man comes in to fix something he tells the office I’m smoking inside I got wrote up

  • >