On November 30, 2016, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a final rule mandating that public housing authorities it supports prohibit all smoking on their residential premises, including within residents' apartments. The primary rationale for this action was to protect nonsmoking residents from the harms of tobacco smoke exposure.
Although the harms of secondhand smoke are clear and the potential for reducing nonsmoking residents' exposure is real, it will be no simple matter to successfully implement the policy requirements set down by HUD. Some challenges to policy implementation will apply to all public housing authorities, and others will be unique to specific settings.
By being aware of the benefits of smoke-free public housing as well as the challenges inherent in complying with HUD's rule, public housing authorities stand the best chance of fulfilling the potential of this major policy initiative to significantly improve public health in a vulnerable population.