Lexington public housing to go smoke free in one week

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Big changes are starting soon for all public housing across the country, and that means here in Lexington too. A federal mandate is making all public housing smoke free.

The change, banning the use of tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars within 25 feet of units, will go into effect July 31, and is leaving some wondering how exactly it will work.

“As far as someone who smokes, they say, ‘Why are you targeting smokers?’ For someone who doesn't they are saying, ‘It’s about time,’” Andrea Wilson of the Lexington Housing Authority said.

Victoria Briggs is one of many people living in Lexington’s public housing who smoke daily inside of their unit.

“I think it’s a good policy, even though I’m a smoker,” Briggs said.

Briggs says she understands the harm smoking causes, not only to herself, but to those around her. However, she also knows other smokers feel differently.

“They are not too happy about it. They are upset about it,” Briggs said. “I know that I have to stop anyway, so it’s a good idea to help me.”

While the response to the changes is mixed, the Lexington Housing Authority is working with health department officials to help those who do want to quit smoking.

“Offering support to those who want it, they can attend the cessation classes for free,” Wilson said.

The Lexington Housing Authority has held several meetings since January to educate people about the change. They say they know enforcement will be a challenge at first, and they are actively seeking guidance from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development about what exactly it will look like.

A first violation of the new rule will result in a warning. A second could mean a cleaning fee, while a third could subject the tenant to eviction.

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