BMHA bans smoking from its buildings

Posted at 5:53 PM, Mar 17, 2016

There is a new rule on the horizon for thousands of residents who live inside Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Buildings. Starting this summer, no smoking will be allowed.

The BMHA Board just made the decision on Thursday morning. According to a release, board members hope to decrease the number of residents who light up to minimize health concerns related to both first and second hand smoking.

Dr. Mark Travers from Roswell Park Cancer Institute addressed the board.

"Tobacco smoke has a mixture of 4,000 compounds," Travers said. "We know at least 69 cause cancer in people. More than 250 are known toxins."

Travers cited concerns of children exposed to second hand smoking, long lasting health issues in apartments once inhabited by heavy smokers and links to cigarettes and house fires.

The board unanimously voted to ban smoking inside of its buildings.

Outdoors, smoking will only be permitted in designated areas. Those areas will be located more than 25 feet from BMHA buildings.

BMHA resident Rebecca Soto voiced support of the ban and concerns about second hand smoke.

"My father died from throat cancer and my mother also died of cancer and she never smoked," Soto told 7 Eyewitness News. "So I'm for the no smoking."

Soto also explained that her BMHA complex voluntarily went smoke free years ago, and that the plan has worked for its residents.

The board also discussed plans to hold classes over the next few months to help residents quit smoking.

"It's a good thing," said QueeNia AsheeMa'at, a resident representative. While she expressed support of creating a healthier environment for residents overall, there were some concerns. "I'm hoping the implementation of it doesn't penalize the tenants too much though."

That was a concern amongst smokers at the meeting.

According to BMHA, once implementation begins, residents will, "receive formal warnings, leading to eviction notices, if they violate the policy."

Bobbie Brown said had she known her complex would ban smoking indoors, she might not have moved in.

"I could have had a choice," Brown said. "So now, if I'm not ready to quit, what would you do?"

Dennis Waite also expressed frustration. He pointed out that the new rule means tenants would have to travel down multiple floors -- and that some of them require wheelchairs -- in order to have a cigeratte.

"They could at least have a grandfathered clause in there for those of us who have been around," Waite said. "You're not going to go up to somebody who's been smoking 10, 20 years and say okay, time to quit now. "

A soft implementation of the smoking ban begins July 1st. Penalties will begin to be enforced in January of 2017.