DeKALB – The DeKalb County Housing Authority board approved a smoke-free policy for all properties beginning June 1, 2014, to create healthier living conditions.
Michelle Perkins, the housing authority's executive director, said there currently is no way to prevent secondhand smoke exposure for residents who live in the same units as smokers. Some buildings have several units sharing the same ventilation system.
But the new policy would help reduce health risks among nonsmokers. It will affect not only housing authority residents, but guests and employees as well.
Residents helped determine whether the properties should be smoke-free, said Jill Morgan, a property manager of multiple housing authority locations. The housing authority invited all residents to participate in a survey about their smoking or nonsmoking preferences before the board made an official decision.
The residents received a notice about the new policy this week. So far, Morgan said she hasn't received any negative feedback.
Should residents violate this policy after it goes into effect, they could face fines and possible eviction.
Though the housing authority will strictly enforce the nonsmoking rule, Morgan said the policy is not meant to offend or discriminate against residents who smoke.
"The smoke-free policy is about the smoke, not the smoker," she stressed. "It's not forcing anyone to quit smoking."
Jane Lux, Public Health Administrator for the DeKalb County Health Department, complimented the new policy and the housing authority's initiative to implement it. She predicted the policy would help decrease the number of health risks involved with tobacco use and secondhand smoke, such as asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes.
For residents who wish to quit smoking, the housing authority has teamed up with the DeKalb County Health Department and Kishwaukee Community Hospital to offer resources to assist them. These services are available to residents at little or no cost.