GREENSBORO, N.C. - You can't smoke in hospitals, in most office buildings, or in schools. Soon, all public housing will get added to the list of smoke-free locations.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, better known as HUD, officially banned smoking there back in February of last year, to cut down on second hand smoke, promote healthy living and prevent fires. It gave all public housing authorities until the end of this month, July 31, to come up with a smoke-free policy.
Two and half months ago, Greensboro Housing Authority's properties went smoke free. If someone wanted to smoke a cigarette, they couldn't light up anywhere on the property. Instead, they would need to walk down the sidewalk, or, cross the street.
Rising high above Spring Garden Street stands Gateway Plaza, a public housing community for seniors. Some of those living there, like Donald Brown, are adjusting to the new smoke-free rules. Every time he wants to light up, he goes to sit at the bus stop, around the corner, while others gather on the sidewalk.
"We no longer have anywhere to smoke. You either smoke on the street, or you won't be able to smoke," said Gateway resident Sharon Davis.
The national mandate from HUD requires all buildings to be smoke-free. It's also against the rules to smoke anywhere within 25 feet of the buildings.
However, the Greensboro Housing Authority goes a step further - banning smoking anywhere on the property. Residents here are abiding by the new rules, but they wish there was a better solution.
"A designated smoking area on the grounds, that gazebo right there is empty… It's away from the building, it's got a lot of air so people could sit there and smoke in peace," said Brown.
The Housing Authority says since this is an unfunded rule, they don't have the money to set up designated smoke areas, and the best solution for the wide variety of complexes is to rule it out completely.
"We want to Greensboro Housing Authority to understand, we have no problem with the no smoking facility," said Davis, "That's not the problem. The problem is the recourse that you gave us, there was none."
In terms of who's policing this - it's the site staff and the property managers. There's "four strikes and you're out rule," where you are warned three times, before getting kicked out of your lease.
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