DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - In a few short weeks, the smoke-free policy will officially start at Housing Authority complexes across the country. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, has mandated local housing authorities implement a smoke-free policy on properties.
The policy goes into effect July 31.
Housing Authorities had the option of going completely smoke-free or allowing smoking areas.
"We decided to go with a campus that has some allowance for smoking," explained Samuel Crawford, Executive Director of Dothan's Housing Authority. "No smoking within the units, but we have designated areas that are 25 feet from the building that would allow smoking to take place."
Crawford says determining the best locations that meet the distance requirement will be the most difficult part of the administration's job in implementing the policy.
There are six public housing complexes in Dothan. Crawford says they have roughly 670 heads of household on file and there are generally 2-3 people inside homes. He estimated between 30 to 35 percent of tenants are smokers.
The Dothan Housing Authority says it started preparing for the transition last year.
"Had community meetings, public hearings about the upcoming policy where tenants on the property can come and express their support or concerns," Crawford confirmed.
Some of the concerns brought up by residents, who didn't want to be identified, dealt with money and the policy infringing on personal lifestyles.
"I feel like if you're paying rent you should be able to do what you want to do," said one resident. "For someone like me, I have anxiety so cigarettes actually help."
Crawford says although all tenants may not agree with the new policy, he believes it's a good move.
"We share a common ventilation system in the units, so smokers' units will infiltrate the non-smokers units and cause some problems," he said. "We have people with respiratory diseases and asthma."
The smoking offenses are looked into after a report of the odor of smoke. According to the Dothan Housing Authority, after continued violations, a tenant could have their lease terminated.
The Housing Authority will offer a free class to help smokers overcome the addiction. People who are interested can stop by the business office.