PHA Goes Smoke Free

Largest Agency in the Country to Adopt Policy

(Philadelphia, PA - March 30, 2018)  - The Philadelphia Housing Authority ("PHA") Board of Commissioners has adopted a smoke-free policy that applies to all units, effective April 2nd.  PHA is the largest housing authority to adopt a no smoking policy.

The existing policy that PHA adopted in July 2015 was a voluntary policy.  The new policy taking effect in April is mandatory and is the result of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulation issued in February 2017.  The housing authority is required to make its policy conform to HUD's requirement.

"The goal of the smoke free policy and procedures is not to evict individuals and families," said PHA's President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah.  "It is actually to provide additional support for cessation, to identify smoking as a real risk to health and safety.  Managers and other employees will not be serving as the smoking police."

Jeremiah also noted that a number of fires have occurred at PHA units that were linked to smoking over the past few years.  In one instance, a child died. He said the housing authority wants to avoid damage to its units, as well as reduce the health risks that residents face from smoking.  PHA will work with resident leadership at each site to identify designated smoking areas.

"We worked with PHA to come up with a policy that was voluntary and then HUD made it mandatory," Commissioner Asia Coney, who is also President of the Resident Advisory Board. "There is not as much resistance to the policy as there initially was. We're getting a lot of cooperation. We have a committee of resident leaders that are actively going out to the community and talking to folks while working with the Philadelphia Health Department."

A scientific study completed in 2016 found that the PHA smoke-free policy improves air quality at public housing developments.  The study conducted by scientists from Drexel and Johns Hopkins Universities showed that the average amount of detectable levels of nicotine in the air at four test sites was reduced almost in half.  Inside non-smoking residents' homes, trends toward reduced nicotine exposures were also seen. 

The new policy taking effect this April applies to all PHA units and calls for a written notice of lease termination after the fourth violation.  The notice encourages a resident to meet with their Property Manager to receive cessation support and information.  The notice will also explain that a fourth violation may lead to eviction if a Philadelphia court of appropriate jurisdiction so orders.  Residents are responsible for their guests and a violation of the policy by guests shall be considered as a violation by tenant.