In 2017, the HUD Office of Public and Indian Housing issued its Final Rule on smoking in public housing developments. Though the regulations restricting smoking have been in effect since August of that year, some managers and residents of subsidized developments remain unclear about what exactly those restrictions entail and who is impacted by them.

Smoking any lighted tobacco product is prohibited in any housing development owned by a public housing agency (PHA). This prohibition covers common areas, spaces within 25 feet of a building, locations outside of Designated Smoking Areas (DSAs), and inside dwelling units.  PHAs also have the authority to restrict the use of other smoking devices such as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), vaporizers, and hookahs/water pipes and they may further restrict smoking by establishing rules to make entire properties smoke-free.

Subsidized multifamily properties not owned by a PHA are not required to be smoke-free. This includes any building owned by a for-profit or non-profit entity. However, HUD recommends that owners of these properties implement smoke-free policies that align with those required of PHAs.

Keep in mind that different laws and rules apply to marijuana. While many states have legalized recreational and/or medicinal marijuana, marijuana remains federally classified as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance. Additionally, the use of any such drug is prohibited under the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act and therefore is prohibited in all forms of subsidized housing.

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