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Columbia Housing Authority votes to ban smoking indoors

The Columbia Housing Authority board voted unanimously to ban smoking inside all public housing. The ban will take effect May 1.

Officials said the ban aims at cutting down on the cost of cleaning apartments. CEO Phil Steinhaus said an apartment previously occupied by a non-smoker is cheaper than one of a smoker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates public housing management groups in Missouri could save $1.2 million in renovations after implementing a ban.

Three public housing residents and one local activist spoke in opposition of the ban at Tuesday night’s meeting. One woman living on Park Avenue said the ban would harm elderly people who may have difficulty getting outside the smoke a cigarette. Nearly all of them cited, though, that the residents should be allowed to smoke while inside their homes.

CHA tested the indoor smoking ban with a few floors of Paquin and Oak Towers. Director of Public Housing Programs director Lee Kadtke said some residents strongly supported the full ban to allow their children to avoid the secondhand smoke. Steinhaus said other public housing residents have a right to enjoy their place without the effects of secondhand smoke.

Columbia already restricts smoking within twenty feet of the entrances of public buildings. The ban would include the entrances of Paquin Towers and Oak Towers, since the front doors are communal.

Violators will first get a warning, then could face a $100 fine or eviction.

In July, the Kansas City Housing Authority passed a similar ban.

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