Myrtle Beach HUD residents react to proposed smoking ban

Myrtle Beach HUD residents react to proposed smoking ban

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Department of Housing and Urban Developing proposed a smoking ban that would affect more than one million public housing units across the country.

"On a given day you can pull up and smell it," said Nina Bonelli, who lives in Bay Pointe.

Smoking would be prohibited inside of public housing units and up to 25 feet away from the buildings.

Non-smokers said they would appreciate not having to smell smoke as often. Children and the elderly would also benefit from that aspect of the ban, HUD said.

"With the children themselves they can't do nothing about it, but it will harm them with secondhand smoke," said Sheena Dehaney, who also lives in Bay Pointe.

HUD said the CDC found banning smoking in public housing would save about $100 million in secondhand smoke-related health care costs.

"Smoking can cause cancer and all kinds of things dealing with your heart and your lungs and it has over 7,000 chemicals in it," Dehaney said.

However, smokers said they want to be able to smoke in a the place they pay to call home.

"It's the comfort of their own home and people should be able to smoke there," said Elka Benning.

Benning lives in Sandygate Village Apartments, which is a HUD community that banned smoked inside and within 20 feet of the buildings in October 2014.

Donna Ives, the site property manager, said it's a worthwhile policy for the health of the people who live in the neighborhood.

Ives said the ban helps with secondhand smoke as well as maintenance and cleanup costs after smoking residents move out.

She said the rule is difficult to enforce because staff members have to catch someone in the act of smoking inside or directly outside of the door to actually take any action.

Ives said she's thinking of having all of the vents professionally cleaned, so from this point on, they'll be able to know if someone was smoking inside of the apartment. A violation could eventually be grounds for eviction.

Benning said she'd at least like to see a designated smoking area with seating.

"They want us to be 20 feet away from the door when they should've put benches out here," she said. "There's a lot of smokers that live here in this apartment building."

HUD is accepting public comments for the next 60 days here.

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