New rule affects smokers in public housing

New rule affects smokers in public housing
Published: May. 16, 2013 at 10:03 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 20, 2017 at 3:08 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Barbara wants to smoke a cigarette, she leaves her public housing apartment and walks off property. She's preparing for a coming crackdown.

"It's not always convenient but I guess I have to do it," she said.

July 1 the Hawaii Public Housing Authority begins enforcing smoking restrictions at its 85 properties. From then on smoking will only be allowed in designated areas.

"They will be given a warning, first, second, third and fourth. The worst case scenario, it could be eviction," the Authority's executive director Hakim Ouansafi said.

He said a survey of tenants showed 80 percent favor restrictions. Health concerns drove his decision, especially exposure to second-hand smoke. Safety was another reason.  And cleaning costs waste taxpayer money.

"It takes an average of $3,700 more to get a smoking unit ready versus non-smoking," he said.

Barbara worries that some smokers won't be able to comply because they can't.

"Some people are in wheelchairs. Some people are even homebound that are smokers. And they don't get out," she said.

Ouansafi said those will be judged on a case-by-case basis.

"It's not taking a right of a smoker to smoke," he said. "We're giving the right of a non-smoker to be able to enjoy the clean air if they so choose."

Tenants must sign addendums to their leases saying they've been notified of the rule and they agree to comply. Ouansafi said the Housing Authority will help those who want to quit smoking.

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