MHA to go smoke-free in April

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — The Meridian Housing Authority will implement a nonsmoking policy in all the agency's facilities and residential dwellings on April 1.

MHA Executive Director Ron Turner Sr. tells the Meridian Star (http://bit.ly/WbffQS) that the issue is not only health.

"From another perspective, we're talking about federal dollars that have been spent toward revitalizing public housing units that have been smoke damaged," Turner said.

Turner said increased insurance and maintenance costs due to smoking led MHA to expedite efforts for board approval of the new policy.

Many Mississippi cities and counties have enacted smoking prohibitions in public places as have universities and junior colleges and the state.

Turner said MHA records also indicate that cigarette smoking is a proven source of major property damage and fire related injuries on several of its facilities.

"We've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating units that have been infiltrated with smoke — changing air filters, cleaning air ducts, replacing stained window blinds, replacing carpet damaged by cigarettes and repainting, often two and three coats to cover smoke stains — to make them 'occupancy ready,'" Turner said.

He said MHA's Occupancy and Community and Supportive Service Departments will provide residents with referrals and information pertaining to local smoking cessation resources and programs especially during the policy transition period.

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