Smoking ban by Kansas City Housing Authority makes good sense

The smoking ban for property overseen by the Kansas City Housing Authority board makes very good sense — up to a point.

When the policy takes effect July 1, it will prohibit people from smoking indoors. That will have positive health effects on residents living in the authority’s 1,700 units. That includes young children, who are adversely affected by the adults who light up around them.

Housing authority executive director Edwin Lowndes makes a compelling point when he says, “I have to provide a healthy environment for all my families to live in.”

In addition, smoking bans have been shown to lead to lower rates of cigarette use. That’s a crucial potential financial savings for people who live in subsidized housing.

The authority’s policy thus is aimed in the right directions of protecting the health of residents and lowering the amount they spend on a harmful habit, leaving more funds for food and other necessary expenses.

However, the proposed ban on smoking on outdoor grounds controlled by the authority goes too far. We’d prefer to see the agency bend a bit — as it has said would be possible — and set aside designated areas where residents can go outside for a smoke.

That would help promote acceptance among residents of the indoor smoking rule.

Critics claim residents should be able to smoke “in their own homes.” But the units are owned by the authority, which, as the landlord, sets the rules.

In this case, the authority’s actions promote positive ways to help residents stay healthier and better able financially to pay the rent. Tweaking the policy to allow smoking outdoors, away from entrances to the units, would be a smart move as well.