Public housing faces smoking ban
BATON ROUGE - People who rely on government help to pay their rent could be told to quit smoking, or live somewhere else.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, is considering banning smoking on all of its properties across the nation. HUD says the ban would save about $153 million a year in health care costs, repairs and preventable fires.
There are about 1,000 HUD units in Baton Rouge. The largest apartment complex under HUD is Turner Plaza Apartments, managed by the East Baton Rouge Housing Authority.
Turner Plaza resident Cammie Jarvis has been smoking for the last 30 years and says she never agreed to a smoking ban.
"People have freedom to do whatever they want to do in their own apartment," said Jarvis.
HUD wants to ban smoking within a 25 foot radius of all properties, making them completely smoke free. Breaking the rules would be grounds for eviction.
The ACLU is against the ban, saying while it's well intended, it's likely to increase homelessness.
"It's like we in prison," said Jarvis. "We don't have a choice, but we still paying our rent on time every month."
HUD will talk to residents across the country for the next 60 days about the proposal. Any ban would take effect 18 months after it is finalized.