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Ban on smoking in public households nationwide

GALESBURG, Illinois - People living public housing will have to think twice before lighting up. Starting next year, smoking inside public housing will be banned impacting more than one-million households nationwide.

Local housing developments who got a head start on the change and others now preparing for it.

About two years ago, smoking was banned inside every apartment at Moon Towers in Galesburg and anywhere else in the building. Now, starting next month, every HUD-owned facility nationwide will need to start following the same rules.

“You should be able to do what you want but I can also see HUD’s point of mandatory nonsmoking. You can see both points,” says one woman living in Moon Towers.

Not everyone can see eye to eye. It didn't sit well when Knox County Housing Authority voluntarily made the change.

“We pay our bills, we pay our rent so why can't we smoke in our apartments?” says Lisa Hatch.

More than $228,000 public housing units are already smoke free. Supporters say the ban on smoking reduces the risk of second hand smoke for everybody.

“You can't contain second hand smoke to one unit. It’s going to go out the doors and through the hallways,” says Derek Antoine, at Knox County Housing Authority.

Knox County is not alone. The Rock Island County Housing Authority is working right now to put the required smoking ban in place.

"The opinion HUD is taking at this point is that it is a healthier lifestyle,” says Gail Riggins, with Rock Island County Housing Authority.

Right now, every housing development in Rock Island County allows smoking. The housing authority may use Knox County as its blueprint.

“We are going to have an opportunity to look at best practices from the 600 that have already done it,” added Riggins.

“It was the right choice for the right reasons. Health of the residents and cost to the agency in terms of cost reductions when turning units,” added Antoine.

Housing developments now have 18 months to put the change in place.