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Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority bans smoking in all buildings

Beginning July 1, smoking will be banned in all Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority buildings, including individual apartments.

The ban was approved Thursday by the BMHA board.

“The goal is to create a healthier, cleaner environment for all our residents, particularly children, the elderly and those suffering from respiratory illness,” said BMHA Executive Director Dawn E. Sanders Garrett.

The ban, which drew opposition from some tenants during a recent public hearing, was supported by others, who complained of secondhand smoke.

Thursday, a Roswell Park Cancer Institute oncologist and an official of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development attended the BMHA meeting to praise the authority’s anti-smoking vote.

Nearly 400 public housing authorities in the country have adopted smoke-free policies, including those in Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and Kenmore.

Eventually, BMHA officials have said, HUD is likely to ban smoking at all of it 3,300 public housing agencies.

Though the BMHA ban goes into effect July 1, it will be a “soft implementation,” through the end of this year. But starting Jan. 1, residents caught smoking will be get formal warnings and possible eviction for repeated violations, BMHA officials said.

Also Thursday, BMHA officials addressed some of the financial issues recently raised over BMHA payments possibly owed to the City of Buffalo.

The BMHA payment to Buffalo for 2015 police services has been in process for several weeks, and the city is expected to receive the $650,000 check next week, Sanders-Garrett said.

The BMHA and Common Council are scheduled to meet next week to discuss another $1.5 million the city Comptroller’s Office said the authority owes the city, but which other officials dispute.