The time for smoke-free public housing is here, at least according to the Obama administration. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a ban in November on smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes inside all homes under jurisdiction of a public housing authority…
Studies show that it’s mostly poor people who smoke, which is why it’s mostly the poor who are affected by cigarette taxes and bans. (And I think poor people know more about underground markets than rich people, which is why there’s still an underground market for cigarettes.)
It reminds me of other drugs that were characterized in the past as being used by a certain disenfranchised group, like marijuana, crack, and heroin. The drug war doesn’t discriminate against drugs that rich (white) people use — that is, until the opioid war began.
It’s funny how the government loves to tax and criminalize the use of certain chemicals, but mostly for the ones used by the poor, and not the ones used by, say, oil and gas companies.
I suppose when the final regulations come out, vaping will be included, because isn’t a vaporizer similar to a pipe? Which is so totally unfair to the disabled living in public housing who have chosen to vape or smoke medical cannabis. Should all these pain patients use opioids instead? Not according to the government, who’s motto should be, “Suffer or die, dickheads, we don’t care.”
Tobacco and nicotine are a few of the legal drugs you can buy without a doctor’s prescription, which is why, even with the outrageous taxes and cost, they’re still cheaper than a prescription drug. And whether you believe it or not, nicotine does treat some medical conditions, although smoking it (with all the additives) is not the best delivery system. Don’t blame poor people for how products are made.
The federal government started promoting the idea of smoke-free public housing in 2009, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in 2014 that found a smoking ban in public housing (excluding subsidized housing) could save states almost $150 million a year. Most of the savings would come from reduced health costs related to secondhand smoke…
It’s funny how these figures are thrown out, as if these savings can be proven. Well, what can you expect from the CDC?
And you have to wonder, does that $150-million-a-year figure include the cost of smoking cessation treatments? Does it include the cost of a single parent who goes outside to smoke, only to come back inside to find an injured child? Does it differentiate between medical conditions caused by pollution (and things like lead and asbestos) and those caused by cigarette smoke? How many public housing complexes are located near manufacturing plants, highways, or other highly polluted areas? All of them?
I really dislike hypocrisy.
“It would also save money because there would be less need for renovations,” said Brian King, a deputy director in the CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health.
I once asked my landlord about why they spend so much money on getting new renters, instead of taking care of the renters they already have. Each renovation costs more money than just regular maintenance, so why not spend that money on existing tenants? She agreed with me, but basically said that’s just the way it is. Whatever.
While the proposed HUD rule advises authorities to use the enforcement standards already in place for grievance complaints, cities that already have some sort of smoke-free policy vary in their enforcement. Some have a three-strikes policy, while others give multiple warnings and fines before evicting people. In Fresno, Calif., which implemented a smoke-free policy in 2011, the homeless and mentally ill living in public supportive housing are exempt from the rule.
“Of course we don’t want our homeless population smoking,” said Preston Prince, executive director of the Fresno Housing Authority. “We just don’t want eviction to be the hammer we hang over their heads about it.”
When you exempt one group, like exempting cancer patients from the new rules on opioids, it’s called discrimination. Eviction is a constant fear for poor people, so fining and criminalizing smoking will only add to all the stress, possibly causing more health damage than the smoking did in the first place.
Poor people call that unfunny irony.
Shall we begin a petition for banning the use of alcohol in homes and public places? How much money would that save? Oh, but wait, isn’t alcohol the drug of choice for politicians? Yeah, it’s not like rich people who live in apartments will have to worry about a ban on smoking.