BMHA residents speak out on proposed smoking ban

BMHA public hearing on proposed indoor smoking ban

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Public housing residents in Buffalo who smoke might be asked to take it outside this summer, if a proposed ban goes through.

Residents voiced their concerns with the measure during a public hearing Thursday.

The public comment period ended January 19, and some residents said they weren’t given clear instructions on where to send comments, and that tenant councils haven’t been keeping residents in the loop.

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is launching a “healthy BMHA” campaign for it’s 31 properties, and no smoking initiatives will be part of it; but the ban proposal is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Residents both for and against the ban spoke Thursday.

“I’m getting all the smoke from other people’s apartments. I can’t even use my heating system on the vent on the wall because of the fumes,” said resident Elizabeth Henderson.

One concern, is that if this ban is strictly implemented, lifelong smokers would be evicted.

“A person who’s living in public housing, if they’re evicted, where are they going to go?” asked BMHA Housing Commissioner Joe Mascia.

(Mascia is currently unable to act in an official capacity, after a leaked video of him using racial slurs surfaced in August).

Resident Rose Arbo recognizes the health risk of smoking indoors, but said forcing people to change lifelong habits is unrealistic.

“You’re expecting disabled and handicapped people and the elderly to go out of the building in inclement weather? They can barely walk. It’s unfair to the people,” she said.

The smoking ban isn’t a sure thing yet; it will be voted on March 17.

If it’s passed, it would be implemented starting in January 2017. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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