SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) — Starting July 31, smokers won’t be able to light up in or near public housing. They’ll have to be at least 25 feet away.
After smoking for 61 years, Virgnia Hatch isn’t happy to learn she won’t be able to smoke in her own home.
“All I can think of right now today is smoking,” said Hatch. “I can’t get down easy, but I’m trying to. The harder it gets, the more determined I am to do it.”
The new law affects those living in public housing units, which are provided for people with low incomes, subsidized by public funds.
Tenants who break it could face eviction.
“It’s housing that’s subsidized, so that lower income, particularly in our case seniors and disabled residents can have a place to live that’s affordable,” said Laryn Hill, the Public Housing Director in Salt Lake City.
Hill believes the change will increase the number of potential tenants for public housing.
According to the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, less than 12% of Utahns smoke.
Some people are happy about the law, but others are not.
“I’m happy to see it go into effect because it does help a lot of people,” said Ila Henry, a resident at Phillips Plaza, a public housing unit in Salt Lake City.
“They should bend the rules and let people who have mobility problems to go out and let people smoke on their balcony,” said Steve Brown, another resident at Philips Plaza.
The federal ban is designed to save public agencies about $153 million every year in costs related to health care due to secondhand smoke, as well as repairs and losses from preventable fires.
“At least locally, we know there will be less costs in preparing new units for new tenants,” said Hill. “We don’t have to do as much repair and maintenance for non-smoking units as for smoking units.”
The ban includes cigarettes, cigars and pipes, but electronic cigarettes are permitted.