NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- By July 31, all government subsidized housing across the United States must implement a no smoking policy, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The rule prohibits the use of tobacco products in public housing living units, indoor common areas, and in administrative office buildings. The policy also extends to all outdoor areas up to 25 feet from the public housing and administrative office buildings, according to a letter to residents provided by the Norfolk Housing Authority.

Norfolk Public Housing Authority Director Donna Mills said her agency implemented the rule July 1.

“Children are being affected by that second and third-hand smoke that’s left in an apartment from the smokers, so it really was for the health and the benefit of the children in our communities,” said Mills.

Resident Robert Sutton has smoked for the past 30 years, and he said he doesn’t think the policy is feasible.

“People are used to smoking,” said Sutton. “They’re used to smoking in their apartment, they’re used to smoking outside… it’s going to be hard, very hard to stop smoking.”

According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing authorities will save up to $38 million dollars a year in reduced maintenance and reduce the fire risk by $38 million dollars.

According to a Center for Disease Control 2014 study, the no smoking policy will save about $497 million dollars a year in healthcare and housing-related costs.

In terms of enforcement, Mills said there’s a four-step process.

“Meet with the resident, talk with them about the policy, why its enforced give them some options for cessation programs,” said Mills.

The last and final step is lease termination.

Resident Bernardine Wilson said the policy is a good idea and most importantly, prioritizes children.

“For the kid's sake, we got a lot of children that suffer from bronchitis and asthma out here,” said Bernardine. “So I think it’s a break for the kids because they need to be looked out too.”

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