- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Health Department is praising a new federal rule that prohibits smoking in public housing developments across the country.

Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen calls the ruling by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development “a tremendous step forward” to protect children and people with illnesses such as asthma from second-hand smoke.

On Thursday HUD Secretary Juli├ín Castro announced the rule that will prohibit “lit tobacco products” in all living units, indoor common areas and administrative offices within 25 feet of housing and administrative office buildings. The smoke-free policy will be implemented over the next 18 months.

Chen says lung disease, heart disease, diabetes and cancer cause more than half of Vermont deaths. He notes tobacco use is a major contributor, along with poor diet and exercise.

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