EHDA to hold public meeting on future tobacco policy Wednesday

Published 7:23 pm Monday, May 22, 2017

Guidelines put in place by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will see Elizabethton change for the upcoming year.
The Elizabethton Housing & Development Agency (EHDA) will be putting in a policy effective January 1, 2018, that will mean residents can no longer smoke inside apartments. Residents will only be able to smoke 25-feet away from EHDA property.
“This isn’t a Kelly rule or an EHDA rule; this is coming down from the national level,” EHDA Executive Director Kelly Geagley said. “We know some of our residents won’t agree with it, but our hands are tied.”
The director added that EHDA had three different policies to choose from.
“It was either having no smoking anywhere, have designated smoking areas or not smoke 25-foot from the apartments,” Geagley said. “We didn’t want to tell people not to smoke at all. We also didn’t want to set up specific areas for the safety of children and the elderly. We thought this policy would be the best and fairer for our residents.
Geagley added the department would hold a public meeting for residents wanting to learn more about the plan on Wednesday, May 24, at 2 p.m. at the EHDA’s central office located at Pine Ridge Circle. Residents will have the chance to hear about what the regulations mean and how they will be affected by the change.
“We want to make sure our residents know what’s going on with these new rules,” Geagley said. “We’re holding these meetings each month so that residents know the regulations and won’t be surprised when January comes around.”
According to HUD, Housing agencies have until July 2018 to have the policies in place. Geagley went on to add that EHDA will look at having the plan ready to go, tentatively, by the December Board of Commissioners meeting.
While Geagley added the department isn’t making residents stop smoking for good, they will offer alternatives for residents looking to stop using tobacco products.
“We’re going to try to have smoking cessation classes,” Geagley said. “We’ve been able to work together with the Carter County Health Department. They’ve been such a great resource. These classes will also be free of charge.”
For more information on the classes, residents can sign-up by calling (423) 543-3571 ext. 308.

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