Smoking should be banned in council housing, public health chief says

Housing association tenants would sign non-smoking agreement under proposed plans

Niamh McIntyre
Sunday 07 May 2017 15:20 BST

Smoking should be banned in all new council houses to protect children from harmful second-hand smoke, a public health chief has said.

Anti-smoking campaigners consider smoke-free housing to be the next major frontier in reducing the harmful effects of passive smoking.

In 2015, the Government introduced a ban on smoking in all vehicles carrying children.

Impact of smoking on lungs

“Housing associations and councils are looking at smoke-free housing buildings. Where children are involved I think there is a real case for it,” Dr John Middleton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, told The Sunday Times.

Dr Middleton said he believed housing association residents should sign contracts which would make non-smoking a condition of their tenancy.

“You wouldn’t evict a load of tenants for smoking. Where you have got new premises, you could have smoke-free agreements from the start," he said.

In the United States, the Obama administration passed a federal law which banned smoking in all public housing - the equivalent to UK social housing - in November last year.

The legislation, which will come into effect in August 2018, will affect more than million homes. In New York alone, which has the largest public housing agency in the country, 400,000 people will be bound by non-smoking agreements.

Passive smoking is particularly dangerous for children, who are at a much higher risk of developing respiratory infections, asthma, bacterial meningitis and cot death.

According to Cancer Research, the majority of exposure to second hand smoke happens in the home.

Research indicates 300,000 children in the UK visit a GP each year because of the effects of second-hand smoke, with 9,500 going to hospital.

Pro-smoking campaign Forest said the proposed policy “would penalise unfairly those who can’t afford to buy their own homes”.

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