Housing Authority of Columbus to implement smoke-free policy starting July 1

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Housing Authority of Columbus and HUD's new smoke-free policy hopes to reduce the amount of smoke exposure to other residents and their staff.

This will also minimize the cost of maintenance and the risk of fire. The policy applies to the interior and exterior of all housing authority's properties.

If the policy is violated there are consequences. People would receive a warning for the first offense, a $50 fine for the second, and a final offense could cost you a possible termination of your lease and a $250 cleaning fee.

"We will check all the units before this policy goes into effect to see what if there's damage already there, so they won't be charged for anything," said Lisa Walters, the Chief Operating Officer Columbus Housing Authority.

Walters says residents have had plenty of notice and no one should be caught by surprise.

"The steps that we've taken to announce this to the residents. They have had resident meetings which are still on-going. They have had some in the mornings and some in the evenings per work schedules and things like that. Then there were notices put out and then there will be more meetings and then the policy will go into effect July 1," said Walters.

This smoke-free policy is something HUD has been advocating since 2009 and now they are mandating it nationwide.

CEO Len Williams says their residents and staff should not be exposed to the hazards of smoking including exposure to second-hand smoke.

The smoke-free policy was approved back in February and will go into effect on July 1.

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