ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca Housing Authority has announced its properties, including all 341 units, are smoke free as of Tuesday.

The new policy, which will impact Northside, Southview, Overlook Terrace family sites and Titus Towers, will prohibit smoking or vaping by tenants, guests and staff in any apartment, common area or IHA outdoor areas unless otherwise designated.

In a news release, Brenda Westfall, executive director of IHA, said secondhand tobacco smoke is an issue for both landlords and tenants.

“It is impossible to contain the smoke from even one tenant, so it drifts into hallways and neighboring apartments. Even what some may consider ‘minor’ exposure is enough to be a serious health risk for tenants with respiratory ailments, for children, and for pets,” Westfall said.

Related: Tompkins County raises tobacco purchase age to 21

Many public housing authorities are banning smoking after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a rule in 2016 requiring all public housing authorities implement a smoke-free policy by July 30, 2018. More than 50 housing authorities in New York have smoke-free policies that cover all apartments, including Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo.

In addition to concerns about secondhand smoke, IHA said smoking is also a fire hazard and a big cost factor when turning over apartments between tenants.

The policy change comes after months of planning. There have been tenant and staff meetings, a public comment period and lease addendums taking place since the policy was passed by the IHA Board of Commissioners last fall.

Electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices are included in the policy because the health risks of exposure to secondhand vapors are still unknown, IHA said.

There will be a kick-off event from 3 to 4 p.m. Tuesday “celebrating good health and fresh air” at Titus Towers.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.