, Salem, MA

Local News

April 7, 2014

Smoking bans being considered for public housing

SALEM — Public housing is one of the last havens for North Shore smokers. In many communities, the elderly and other residents can still smoke in their apartments or outside on the grounds.

But that, it appears, is about to change.

At the start of this year, the nearly 300 apartments and duplexes overseen by the Danvers Housing Authority went smoke-free. By July, smoking won’t be allowed anywhere on the Danvers properties.

The Marblehead Housing Authority will impose a total smoking ban at the end of this year.

The Ipswich and Hamilton housing authorities have surveyed residents on the issue, the first step toward a smoking ban. The Peabody Housing Authority plans to survey residents this summer.

Beverly and Salem, two of the largest local agencies, haven’t taken up the issue yet, but they are inching forward.

“We are entertaining that idea,” said Carol McGown, director of the Salem Housing Authority. But “it’s at least a year out.” She stressed that there will be tenant surveys and meetings before any action is taken.

On Thursday, Salem Health Agent Larry Ramdin and officials from the North Shore Shared Public Health Service Program, representing eight area communities, will sit down with McGown to discuss smoke-free housing.

The smoking ban in public housing is part of a wider initiative aimed at curbing asthma and other health problems, Ramdin said.

“Secondhand smoke is an asthma trigger,” he said. “And the people who live in multi-unit housing ... (their) health is being negatively impacted as a consequence.”

The no-smoking campaign is also targeting private housing, according to Heather Luciani, coordinator and educator for the health consortium.

Peabody House, a privately owned property in Peabody with elderly and disabled tenants, will be smoke-free on Aug. 1, she said.

Fairweather Apartments in Salem has taken the same step, Ramdin said.

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