HUD Proposes Banning Smoking, E-Cigarettes in Public Housing

Published December 8, 2015

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is proposing a banning smoking in all taxpayer-funded housing apartments in the country.

The final Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rule may also include a ban on e-cigarette use in public housing.

Not the People’s House

William Anderson, a professor of economics at Frostburg State University, says the proposed rule goes too far.

“If you ban e-cigarettes, there literally is nothing else that you can’t ban,” He said. “What about reading material? What about who you vote for? What if someone votes the wrong way?

 “Even more than tobacco, this is a true ‘gateway’ issue, because if you can get away with banning tobacco, then you can get away with banning a lot of other kinds of behavior or actions,” Anderson said. “The list is endless. The term they use is ‘managerial state,’ but I think this goes beyond that. This is out-and-out bureaucratic control. And this particular administration, the Obama administration, sees no limits at all to their power.”

Unjustified Rulemaking

Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, says banning e-cigarettes in public housing is unjustifiable.

“The only justification for such an intervention would be the health of other people,” Stier said. “I can understand why one might think we should ban smoking in public housing, because of secondhand exposure. When it comes to e-cigarettes, there is no secondhand smoke. In fact, there isn’t even any firsthand smoke. There’s no combustion. The ambient exposure presents no risks whatsoever, even for long-term exposure to so-called ‘secondhand vapor.'”

Stier says banning e-cigarettes would actually undermine people’s health by discouraging a safer alternative to tobacco use.

 “If you have some of our most vulnerable population in public housing, and they’re interested in reducing their risk by switching to e-cigarettes, it would be ill-advised to make it more difficult for them to switch.”

Luke Karnick ([email protected]) writes from Indianapolis, Indiana.