The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a rule to ban smoking in public houses in the country to further discourage users from taking up the smoking habit.
In a bid to protect the public from the bad effects of tobacco smoke, the HUD said it will see to a rule that would require public housing units to completely ban smoking within a certain number of years.
20 percent of public housing in the US, or at least 600 housing agencies and 200,000 households, have already voluntarily banned smoking within their premises.
The Department is still consulting with experts on whether using e-cigarettes (also known as vaping), should also be included in the ban.
"We have a responsibility to protect public housing resident from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, especially the elderly and children," HUD Secretary Julián Castro said.
Detractors of the proposal said that the move discouraged people from transitioning to less harmful smoking alternatives.
President Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association also called the attempt to ban vaping as an act of bullying, preventing e-cigarette users who already use low risk alternatives that are both smoke and tobacco-free.
On the other hand, healthcare agencies like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Lung Association have expressed their support for the ban, adding that cigarettes and e-cigarettes not only expose others to nicotine but also pose risks for fire. Several accidents caused by defective e-cigarettes have been indeed been reported over the last several months.
The HUD also emphasized that there is no way to reduce the risk of exposure to second-hand smoke other than to ban smoking entirely.
"This is a natural step to continue to spread the smoke-free protections that started with workplaces and then spread to restaurants and bars," said Michael Siegel, a professor from the Boston University's School of Public Health and a supporter of the ban.
While the ban may appear to be the best move health-wise, it is not without a hefty price. The policy will initially require at least $212.2 million, and that does not even include the cost for reinforcing the law.