I'm a former smoker, a Democrat, supporter of Barack Obama and a lawyer. I'm fully aware of the effects of secondhand smoke, particularly on children and the elderly. I have no connection to the tobacco industry nor do I have any investment in subsidized housing. It appears to me that the Department of Housing and Urban Development has the power to implement its new rules prohibiting smoking in and around public housing. I just think it's a bad idea ("Trump should keep HUD's smoke-free rule," Dec. 1).
For starters, under these rules, HUD will be cracking down on a minuscule number of people — .003 percent of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, everyone else in the country (including families in other kinds of subsidized housing) can go on living their lives the same way as before. Add to this the fact that in many large cities the vast majority (99 percent in Detroit, 98 percent in New Orleans and Washington D.C., and 96 percent in Baltimore) of the tenants in public housing are black, and what you end up with is a relatively small group of mostly black people who are being told what they can and cannot do in their own homes while the other 99.997 percent aren't subject to this intrusive federal regulation.
This is a pretty obnoxious situation, especially given the current climate of race relations. But there's more. The rules require that there be 25-foot smoke-free perimeter around all public housing buildings. HUD acknowledges that recognizes that "for some developments, residents may have to cross the street to be 25 feet away from the building," where, presumably, people can light up under someone else's kids' window.
Finally, in a demonstration of HUD's level of respect for the tenants, it mentions that housing authorities will need to design policies for residents "reporting of violations by other residents" (who may be evicted as a result). Surely that will help build community.
I respect what HUD is trying to accomplish, but I think there are a lot of good reasons not to go about it this way. The intentions are good. The execution and the optics? Not so much.
Lucy B. Robins, Baltimore