[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 193 (Thursday, October 4, 2012)]
[Pages 60712-60714]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-24430]



[Docket No. FR-5597-N-01]

Request for Information on Adopting Smoke-Free Policies in PHAs 
and Multifamily Housing

AGENCY: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Housing--Federal Housing 
Commissioner and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public and 
Indian Housing, HUD.

ACTION: Request for information.


SUMMARY: This notice seeks information and invites public comment 
regarding how HUD can best continue to support the implementation of 
smoke-free policies for both public housing and multifamily housing. In 
this regard, HUD is seeking information from the general public and 
stakeholders, including resident councils, advocacy groups, and housing 
providers, directly impacted by or involved with the implementation of 
smoke-free policies in both public housing and multifamily programs. 
Specifically, HUD is seeking information on best practices and 
practical strategies from housing providers who have implemented smoke-
free policies, ideas for overcoming potential obstacles to implementing 
a smoke-free policy and methods for supporting residents, and housing 
providers in transitioning to smoke-free housing. Additionally, this 
notice requests input from housing providers that have decided not to 
implement a smoke-free policy and those impacted by that decision. This 
information will assist HUD to develop and disseminate additional 
guidance and resources to support public housing agencies (PHAs) and 
owners and management agents (O/As) who wish to implement smoke-free 

DATES: Comments Due Date: November 5, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit comments responsive 
to this request for information to the Office of General Counsel, 
Regulations Division, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 
Seventh Street SW., Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410-0001. 
Communications must refer to the above docket number and title and 
should contain the information specified in the ``Request for 
Comments'' of this notice.
    Submission of Hard Copy Comments. To ensure that the information is 
fully considered by all of the reviewers, each commenter submitting 
hard copy comments, by mail or hand delivery, should submit comments or 
requests to the address above, addressed to the attention of the 
Regulations Division. Due to security measures at all federal agencies, 
submission of comments or requests by mail often result in delayed 
delivery. To ensure timely receipt of comments, HUD recommends that any 
comments submitted by mail be submitted at least 2 weeks in advance of 
the public comment deadline.
    Electronic Submission of Comments. Interested persons may submit 
comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at 
http://www.regulations.gov. HUD strongly encourages commenters to 
submit comments electronically. Electronic submission of comments 
allows the commenter maximum time to prepare and submit a comment, 
ensures timely receipt by HUD, and enables HUD to make them immediately 
available to the public. Comments submitted electronically through the 
http://www.regulations.gov Web site can be viewed by interested members 
of the public. Commenters should follow instructions provided on that 
site to submit comments electronically.
    No Facsimile Comments. Facsimile (FAX) comments are not acceptable.
    Public Inspection of Comments. All comments submitted to HUD 
regarding this notice will be available, without charge, for public 
inspection and copying between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays at the above 
address. Due to security measures at the HUD Headquarters building, an 
advance appointment to review the documents must be scheduled by 
calling the Regulations Division at 202-708-3055 (this is not a toll-
free number). Copies of all documents submitted are available for 
inspection and downloading at http://www.regulations.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shauna Sorrells, Director, Public 
Housing Programs, Office of Public and Indian Housing, Department of 
Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 4232, 
Washington, DC 20410-4000, telephone number 202-402-2769 (this is not a 
toll-free number) or Catherine Brennan, Director, Office of Housing 
Assistance and Grant Administration, Office of Housing, Department of 
Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 6134, 
Washington, DC 20410-4000, telephone number 202-708-3000 (this is not a 
toll-free number). Persons with hearing- or speech-impairments may 
access this number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay 
Service at 800-877-8339.


I. Background

    In 2009, HUD issued PIH Notice 2009-21 \1\ in which it strongly 
encouraged PHAs to adopt smoke-free policies in some or all of their 
public housing units. In 2010, HUD issued Housing Notice 2010-21 \2\ in 
which it encouraged O/As to implement smoke-free housing policies in 
one or all of the properties they own or manage. Both notices stated 
that cigarette smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease 
in the United States and that secondhand smoke, also known as 
environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and which may be involuntarily 
inhaled by nonsmokers, can migrate between units in multifamily 
properties, and cause respiratory illness, heart disease, cancer, and 
other adverse health effects for housing residents and employees. The 
notices also referenced studies that reviewed smoking-material fires 
and that concluded that smoking is the leading cause of fire deaths in 
multifamily properties.\3\

    \1\ Available at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/.
    \2\ Available at: http://www.hud.gov/offices/adm/hudclips/.
    \3\ Citing U.S. Fire Administration, Residential Structure and 
Building Fires, (October 2008), www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/Residential_Structure_and_Building_Fires.pdf.

    PIH Notice 2009-21 also referenced a case study produced by the 
Sanford Maine Housing Authority that concluded that smoke-free units 
are less expensive to turn over for new residents, due to a lack of 
damage to carpets, stains on walls and damage to other interior spaces 
and finishes caused by smoke and burn marks.\4\ PHAs and O/As may also 
be able to negotiate for reduced insurance rates based on decreased 
fire risks in smoke-free buildings, increasing the potential savings 
from instituting smoke-free policies.

    \4\ Sanford Maine Housing Authority Case Study, http://www.smokefreeforme.org/landlord.php?page=Save+Money%2C%3Cbr%3ESave+Your+Building.

    As of January 2011, over 225 PHAs have adopted smoke-free policies 
in some or all of their units. HUD has also received a substantial 
amount of correspondence from residents, PHAs, O/As, governmental 
agencies and advocacy groups requesting additional guidance on how 
housing providers can implement smoke-free policies. On May

[[Page 60713]]

29, 2012, HUD in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, 
the American Lung Association and the U.S. Department of Health and 
Human Services issued a ``Smoke Free Housing Toolkit'' to assist PHAs, 
O/As and residents of public and assisted multifamily housing who want 
safer and healthier homes. The ``Smoke Free Housing Toolkit'' contains 
information on health effects of smoking, a synopsis of the Surgeon 
General's 2006 report of the harmful effects associated with exposure 
to secondhand smoke and other resources helpful for residents, and 
housing providers.
    In light of the above, HUD is seeking public comment from the 
general public, PHAs, O/As, public housing residents, multifamily 
housing residents and other stakeholders to help inform HUD on how best 
to support housing providers and residents in their voluntary 
implementation of smoke-free policies while continuing to serve HUD's 
core mission of housing low-income families. HUD must carefully balance 
the interests of such policies with the need for low income residents 
to have decent, safe and affordable places to live.

II. Request for Information

    HUD's purpose in requesting this information is to provide a 
meaningful opportunity for stakeholders as well as the general public 
to assist HUD in its development of useful and effective guidance to 
support the implementation of smoke-free policies in both public 
housing and multifamily housing. Therefore, in advance of issuing 
additional guidance and resources, HUD invites interested parties to 
provide detailed comments on all aspects of this issue. In addition, 
HUD is providing the following list of topics and questions to which it 
is seeking substantive responses, including rationales and explanations 
for the answers provided.

1. Benefits, Risks and Costs of Implementing a Smoke-Free Housing 

    a. What benefits support the implementation of a smoke-free policy? 
For PHAs and O/As that have transitioned, were there any unanticipated 
quantifiable and qualitative benefits from implementing a smoke-free 
    b. Should a minimum percentage of residents support implementing a 
smoke-free policy before the PHA or O/A implements such a policy? For 
PHAs and O/As that have transitioned, what percentage of residents 
wanted a smoke-free policy? How was this percentage determined?
    c. What are the greatest risks or costs to implementing a smoke-
free policy? For PHAs and O/As that have transitioned, what, if any, 
were the unintended consequences from implementing a smoke-free policy?
    d. How can the benefits, risks and costs of a smoke-free policy be 
measured or tracked? For PHAs and O/As that have transitioned, are the 
benefits, risks and costs of implementing a smoke-free policy being 
measured or tracked and, if so, how and what are the results?
    e. What costs might be incurred or monetary savings realized if the 
PHA and O/A transitioned to smoke-free housing? For example, are 
savings available on insurance rates or on unit turnover? How can these 
costs and savings be calculated? For PHAs and O/As that have 
transitioned, what were the actual short-term and long-term costs and 
savings resulting from the transition?
    f. For PHAs and O/As that have considered implementing a smoke-free 
policy but have decided against doing so, what were the reasons for 
deciding not to move forward? Did the PHA or O/A that did not implement 
a smoke-free policy choose instead to make improvements or adjustments 
to housing units to reduce the migration of smoke between units, and if 
so, what were the associated costs?

2. Initial Policy Development and Implementation

    a. What roles should PHA or O/A management, maintenance staff and 
resident representatives play in developing and implementing a smoke-
free policy?
    b. For PHAs and O/As that have implemented a smoke-free policy, 
what roles did residents, local groups (e.g., Health Departments, 
health care providers or Federally Qualified Health Centers), smoking 
cessation and healthy living programs play in initiating, developing 
and implementing a smoke-free policy?
    c. For PHAs and O/As that have implemented a smoke-free policy, 
beginning with the initial planning period, how long did it take to 
implement the smoke-free policy? Was the policy initiated by management 
or by residents? What were the steps in the process, and how long did 
each take? What steps were taken to engage residents, including 
residents with disabilities (e.g., persons with vision, hearing or 
mobility impairments) and residents with limited English proficiency, 
before implementing a smoke-free policy?
    d. How was the policy communicated to residents? How long after 
notifying the residents was the policy implemented? Was that sufficient 
notice, and if not, what would be sufficient notice?
    e. What are the major elements of a smoke-free policy? For PHAs and 
O/As that have implemented smoke-free policies, have any changes been 
made to the policy due to unanticipated consequences? If so, in what 
ways has the policy changed?
    f. What are the most challenging obstacles to implementing a smoke-
free policy and how might they be overcome? For PHAs and O/As that have 
implemented smoke-free policies, what were the most challenging 
obstacles encountered and how were they addressed?
    g. Currently, HUD encourages PHAs to revise their lease agreements 
to reflect any new smoke-free policy and asks O/As to make these 
revisions in their house rules. Should the PHA and O/A be required to 
amend resident leases or house rules if they implement a smoke-free 
policy? If so, how and when should the leases or house rules be 
amended? For PHAs and O/As that have implemented smoke-free policies, 
were leases or lease addendums (house rules) amended?

3. Policy Enforcement

    a. How should smoke-free policies be enforced? What should the 
consequences of violating the smoke-free policy be? How should the 
consequences of violating the smoke-free policy be communicated to 
residents? For PHAs and O/As that have implemented smoke-free policies, 
what are the consequences if residents violate the policy, what 
enforcement mechanisms are used and what are the barriers to using the 
available enforcement mechanisms? For PHAs or O/As that have pursued 
evictions for failure to comply with the smoke-free policy, have any 
residents been evicted, and if so, how many times had the resident 
violated the smoke-free policy before it was considered a serious 
violation of the lease or house rules?
    b. Should residents who smoked before the implementation of the 
policy be allowed to continue to smoke until they move out or for a 
specific period of time (i.e., grandfathering)? If existing residents 
are ``grandfathered'' under the policy, how long should they continue 
to be allowed to smoke in their units?
    c. Should residents affected by the smoke-free policy be offered 
other housing alternatives if the residents cannot or will not comply 
with smoke-free policies? For PHAs and O/As who

[[Page 60714]]

implemented smoke-free policies, how were residents who were unable to 
leave their unit to smoke accommodated? For PHAs and O/As that have 
implemented a smoke-free policy, what are the greatest challenges to 
enforcing a smoke-free policy? What steps are being taken to overcome 
those challenges?

4. Resources for Policy Implementation

    a. For PHAs, O/As and residents that have used the ``Smoke Free 
Toolkit,'' how was the toolkit utilized and are there additional 
resources that should be added?
    b. What resources are available from the community or state to help 
residents transition to a smoke-free policy, and do they include 
cessation counseling or nicotine substitutes (e.g., tobacco patches, 
lozenges, nicotine gum)?
    c. For PHAs and O/As that have implemented a smoke-free policy, 
what resources would have been helpful, but were not provided? In cases 
where nicotine substitutes or other smoking cessation resources (e.g., 
counseling) were provided, were the resources successful in helping 
ensure the policy was followed? What, if any resources were obtained 
from tobacco control advocates or health care providers?

    Dated: September 26, 2012.
Sandra B. Henriquez,
Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing.
Carol J. Galante,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Housing--Federal Housing Commissioner.
[FR Doc. 2012-24430 Filed 10-3-12; 8:45 am]