Are excluding e-cigarettes a loophole in the smokefree public housing rule?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Preventive medicine reports






E-cigarettes; Epidemiology; Public housing


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required all Public Housing Authorities to become smokefree in July 2018, following an 18-month implementation period that began February 2017. The HUD rule included all combustible tobacco products; e-cigarettes were not included. This purpose of this study is to characterize e-cigarette use overall and initiation after the implementation of the smokefree rule among tobacco users living in public housing. Data were collected from 396 adult (18+ years) current tobacco users at the time of rule implementation residing in the District of Columbia Housing Authority between July 2018 and November 2021. Measures include e-cigarette use, age of initiation, reasons for e-cigarette use, e-cigarette use susceptibility (among non-users), and sociodemographic characteristics. Descriptive and crosstab statistics were calculated to characterize e-cigarette use. Nearly-one-quarter of tobacco users reported lifetime use of e-cigarettes (24 %, n = 95) and 4.8 % (n = 19) indicated past 30-day e-cigarette use. Of the lifetime users, twenty-two (23.2 %) initiated their use after the smoke-free rule went into effect, with only two of those residents indicating they did so because of the rule. Of those who never used an e-cigarette, 23.5 % (n = 70) indicated being curious about e-cigarettes and 10.7 % (n = 40) said they may use e-cigarettes in the next year. Results indicate low use of e-cigarette products and low uptake due to the rule. Few tobacco users who never used e-cigarettes indicated intentions to use. Results suggest that omitting e-cigarettes from the HUD rule has not led to significant use of these products in this sample.