The Columbia Housing Authority board held a meeting Tuesday night and unanimously voted to ban smoking inside their units.
The ban includes 719 residences that the authority manages, including two high rise buildings, the Oak Towers and Paquin Towers. At the high rise residencies, people are asked to be 20 feet away from the buildings if they are smoking but at the family units, they only need to step out onto their porch before smoking. The goal behind this ban was to create healthy living environments for their residents as well as reducing the cost of renovating when they move new tenants in.
The Columbia Housing Authority conducted testing in the Paquin Towers and they discovered there were unhealthy levels of secondhand smoke in the common areas on several floors. Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus stressed the importance of a healthy environment in their units.
“We are very concerned about the environmental safety of our units and the indoor air quality and the health of our residents,” Steinhaus said, “we are also working with the residents to offer smoking cessation classes and support in combination with our local health department.”
The CHA has a tiered system of warnings for their tenants to help them comply to the rules. Residents will receive multiple warnings if they violate the new ban and could end up having their lease terminated if they fail to follow the new policy.
Director of public housing programs Lee Radtke said that the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers has stated that they don’t have the technology needed to clean the smoke out of buildings and the only way to really get a smoke free building is to ban smoking inside the building. She also said it costs a great deal to do a unit restoration of a smokers unit.
“There is so much nicotine build-up, there could be burn marks on things so doing all the rehab that we are going to be doing going forward, we wanted to make sure with all these brand new completely redone units, we are starting off beautiful and pristine and we want to keep it as much that way as much as possible,” Radtke said.
The ban will go into effect May 1.