Smoking ban in Westfield housing is working but has hiccups

If you need help quitting, you can visit smokefree.gov

A cigarette sits at the edge of an ashtray (photo credit: Dan Desrochers)

WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) –The smoking ban in elderly housing provided by the Westfield Housing Authority (WHA) has gone well thus far but some complaints have come in as residents have to adjust to the new rules.

The ban was put in place April 1, which started with the elderly housing that the WHA oversees, potentially effecting over 400 people. The ban was put in place by the WHA after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) enacted a similar ban on federal housing and was a “sign of the times,” WHA director Dan Kelly previously said. The ban includes a mandated distance from entryways where smoking is permitted and allows for fines or even conviction, if not followed.

Kelly said that for the most part, the ban has been effective but that doesn’t mean that it has been flawless.

“A few people have complained about people smoking inside,” Kelly said. “There have been no fines yet but we have spoken with people. If it happens multiple times we will fine them.”

The smoking ban in elderly housing is the first location under the WHA umbrella, with bans coming to housing in Southwick on May 1, and then a ban expected for family housing in the area on July 1.

The ban matches the culture shift happening in America, as the country continues to go smoke-free. Bans in a variety of public places, including an ordinance passed several months ago by Westfield city council, as well as rising cigarette taxes, countless anti-smoking advertisements and even Major League Baseball implementing a ban on chewing tobacco last year are all signs of the shift.

And the changes may have helped Americans quit. In 2015, the CDC found that about 15 out of every 100 Americans were current cigarette smokers. This was a decline of about 25 percent from 2005, which found about 21 out of every 100 Americans lit up on a regular basis.

If you need help quitting, you can visit smokefree.gov for more information.

Copyright 2017 The Westfield News