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HUD declares federal smoking ban in public housing; vaping left to local authorities

On November 30, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that smoking will be banned inside the nearly one million units of public housing across the country.  However, the ruling is unclear regarding the possible banning electronic cigarettes and vaping devices, leaving many Public Housing Agencies to assume that this decision must be made by local authorities.

The ruling is being touted as an attempt to protect non-smokers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.  However, HUD officials admit that there is still a lack of reputable scientific evidence to legitimately conclude that e-cigs pose a significant threat to public health.

"Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke…HUD's smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities. By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD's rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires."
-HUD Secretary Julian Castro

The agency also readily admits that current research seems to indicate that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking.  However, agency officials also believe that further research is warranted, specifically regarding the possible negative health effects of second-hand vapor from e-cigs and vaping technology.

The HUD ruling vs. the FDA deeming regulations

This somewhat confusing explanation seems to leave the door open to include vaping in the new HUD ban at some point in the future.  For the time being, HUD is officially allowing local Public Health Agencies to make the final decision regarding a vaping ban in their related properties.  Critics on both sides believe that HUD is essentially “passing the buck” by failing to make a definitive decision, one way or the other.


Pro-vaping advocates are reading HUD’s indecisiveness as a positive sign.  HUD is essentially separating vaping and smoking into two distinct categories.  This contrasts sharply with the FDA deeming regulations of May 5, 2016, which will require all e-cig and vaping retailers to conform to the very same federal regulations as Big Tobacco within the next two years.

To confuse matters even further, Phillips Morris has developed a vape-like device that vaporizes real tobacco.  Current vape technology is 100% tobacco-free, which is why so many in the vaping industry believe the new FDA deeming regulations are unconstitutional.   Because the vaping waters continue to grow murkier and murkier, this might be a primary reason for HUD’s reluctance to include e-cigarettes in the new ban…for now.


(Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press)

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