Archive

Westmoreland County Housing Authority passes smoking ban | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Westmoreland County Housing Authority passes smoking ban

gtrsmokefree1081516
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Ken Zamborsky lights a cigarette at Hempfield Towers on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. The Westmoreland County Housing Authority properties are prepping to go smoke-free to comply with a new federal regulation. County officials expect a formal anti-smoking policy for all units to be enacted this fall.
gtrsmokefree1081516
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
Ken Zamborsky lights a cigarette at Hempfield Towers on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. The Westmoreland County Housing Authority properties are prepping to go smoke-free to comply with a new federal regulation. County officials expect a formal anti-smoking policy for all units to be enacted this fall.

Nearly 5,000 Westmoreland County Housing Authority tenants have until next summer to be smoke-free or risk being evicted.

Authority board members on Tuesday unanimously approved an agencywide smoking ban that bars residents from smoking in their publicly subsidized homes.

Smoking in public and common areas of housing authority properties has been outlawed since 2003.

“By no means can we become the smoke police, but we want to have a nice place for tenants to live,” said Michael Washowich, the authority’s executive director.

The housing authority has worked for the last year to formulate a smoking ban on the heels of a federal requirement issued in late 2016 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that mandated public housing units to be smoke-free.

Westmoreland’s ban prohibits all cigarettes, pipes, cigars, water pipes, e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

The ban includes all 2,500 housing units throughout the authority.

Residents will be given four warnings before eviction proceedings can be brought, according to authority Solicitor Gene Ferace.

But officials conceded they aren’t sure just how enforcement of the new policy will be enacted.

“We’ll do our due diligence to try to enforce it, but where it goes from here, we’ll see,” Ferace said.

Starting in July, the authority will begin asking residents to sign lease amendments acknowledging the smoking ban.

Enforcement cannot begin until all leases are updated, a process that is expected to be completed by the end of June 2018.

Over the next year, tenants will be encouraged to start smoking cessation classes that the authority will offer at each of its buildings through the Penn State Cooperative Extension.

Washowich said there are no estimates as to the number of smokers who live in authority housing, but said he believes the number is “significant.”

Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or [email protected]

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.