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Smoking to be banned in BMHA apartments

Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority residents, employees and visitors would have to go outside for a smoke under a proposal set to go into effect in July.

The BMHA Thursday unveiled a no-smoking policy that, authority officials said, follows the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is encouraging smoke-free policies at the nation’s 3,300 housing authorities.

So far, about 300 housing authorities have adopted no-smoking policies, including the Kenmore and Lockport authorities.

The Buffalo policy is being rolled out along with smoking cessation program to help residents quit smoking, said BMHA Executive Director Dawn Sanders-Garrett.

Under the policy, smoking would be banned in all BMHA buildings, including resident apartments. Smoking will be permitted outside, but not within 25 feet of authority buildings.

The BMHA already has heard from resident smokers unhappy with the new policy and it will continue taking resident comments. A public hearing will be held in March.

But the policy is expected to go into effect July 1, with a “soft-opening” that will allow for warnings, or possibly small fines, during 2016 for policy violations. Penalties are still being worked out, but when the policy is fully implemented, likely in 2017, smoking in BMHA buildings could be grounds for eviction, Sanders-Garrett said. BMHA employees are already banned from smoking in authority buildings, she said.