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The Wilson Housing Authority (WHA) in North Carolina, US, is using public health as a pretense to limit personal freedom, according to an editorial in the Wilson Daily Times.
A federal mandate requires public housing communities to go tobacco-smoke-free by July 31 next year, but Wilson officials have taken the requirement several steps further by banning the use of electronic cigarettes and smokeless tobacco along with that of lit tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and pipes.
Beginning January 1, the WHA will ban the use of tobacco and vaping products in all its homes and offices. The agency will prevent also tobacco use within 25 feet of its buildings.
Violators will receive two written warnings, be hit with a $50 fine the third time they’re caught and be thrown out the fourth time, according to a lease addendum residents were required to sign.
The restrictions stem, in part, from a US Department of Housing and Urban Development policy. But HUD considered and rejected blanket bans on smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes, adopting a policy narrowly tailored to prevent second-hand smoke exposure, reduce the risk of residential fires and reduce maintenance costs.
‘Local officials adopted more stringent rules on their own,’ the editorial said. ‘As far as we can tell, the rationale has more to do with paternalism than environmental health.’