Elm City smokers don't like a rule which will make public housing smoke-free, but the Housing Authority of New Haven said it had no choice.
Sitting on a couple of benches, a group gathered for a morning smoke on Monday.
"We've been smoking cigarettes out here for so long,” Andrew Lyons, of New Haven, said. “Now, you want to change it."
Come this summer, that's exactly what will happen. Elm City communities and Housing Authority of New Haven are adopting a no smoking policy for its residents, staff, and guests at all of its 25 properties.
That means no smoking inside your apartment, common areas, or within 25 feet of the building.
"Smoking outside, who are we hurting? Who? Nobody and they're trying to say we can't smoke in our apartments,” Dorothy Smith, of New Haven, said. "We pay rent that's wrong."
Smith told Eyewitness News she smokes a pack a day, but, outside of the McQueeney Towers on Orange Street, those days are numbered.
"That includes tobacco-related products and also E-cigarettes. We'll be working around smoke cessation and the goal is really to improve the health of our residents from both first hand and second-hand smoke,” Karen DuBois-Walton, who is the executive director of the Housing Authority of New Haven, said. “It also reduces our maintenance cost, smoking causes us to have to do extra maintenance in units, and there is a fire danger associated with smoking as well."
DuBois-Walton said this will impact about 2,500 families. Last year, they started a no smoking policy at three of their properties.
DuBois-Walton said she understands people want to do what they do in the privacy of their own homes, but said this mandate came down from the federal government's housing and urban development last year. The mandate gave New Haven and other housing authorities 18 months to develop a smoke-free housing plan and be in compliance.
"We'll start with knock on the door, talking with people, offer counseling, warnings,” DuBois-Walton said. “We'll step up to a written warning, ultimately could lead to fines imposed on the first, 2nd, subsequent violations."
After that, if you're still not in compliance, city officials said it could start the process of eviction due to a lease violation.
The residents still have time to prepare themselves and get used to it. All housing authority properties must be smoke-free by July 2018.
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