Instituting Smoke-Free Public Housing: A Rule by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

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The purpose of the rule is to require public housing agencies (PHAs) to establish, within 18 months of the effective date, a policy disallowing the use of prohibited tobacco products, as such term is defined in § 965.653(c), inside all indoor areas of public housing, including but not limited to living units, indoor common areas, electrical closets, storage units, and PHA administrative office buildings, and in all outdoor areas within 25 feet of the housing and administrative office buildings (collectively, “restricted areas”). As further discussed in this rule, such a policy is expected to improve indoor air quality in public housing; benefit the health of public housing residents, visitors, and PHA staff; reduce the risk of catastrophic fires; and lower overall maintenance costs.


This rule applies to all public housing other than dwelling units in mixed-finance buildings. PHAs are required to establish, within 18 months of the effective date of the rule, policies disallowing the use of prohibited tobacco products in all restricted areas. PHAs may, but are not required to, further restrict smoking to outdoor dedicated smoking areas outside the restricted areas, create additional restricted areas in which smoking is prohibited (e.g., near a playground), or, alternatively, make their entire grounds smoke-free.


PHAs are required to document their smoke-free policies in their PHA plans, a process that requires resident engagement and public meetings. The proscription on the use of prohibited tobacco products must also be included in a tenant's lease, which may be done either through an amendment process or as tenants renew their leases annually.

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