Smoking ban in all U.S. public housing is expected to affect 2 million Americans, including 760,000 children and more than 300,000 senior citizens who live in more than 940,000 public housing units, HUD said. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoking to be banned in U.S. public housing

Smoking will be banned in all U.S. public housing as of fall 2018 to reduce the exposure of residents to secondhand smoke, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said Wednesday.

Health-care groups including the American Lung Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have long sought the ban because of the numerous illnesses secondhand smoke causes, including asthma attacks and respiratory infections.

The ban is expected to affect 2 million Americans, including 760,000 children and more than 300,000 senior citizens who live in more than 940,000 public housing units, HUD said.

More than 600 of the nation’s 3,100 public housing agencies already prohibit indoor smoking. The new rule extends the ban to smoking cigarettes, cigars and pipes within 25 feet of all federally owned apartments, public areas and administrative offices. Electronic cigarettes are exempted.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated the smoking ban could save housing agencies $153 million annually in lower health-care costs, fewer fires and less costly maintenance.

— Reuters

Planned Parenthood files suits in 3 states

Planned Parenthood has filed lawsuits challenging abortion laws in three states, saying they put unconstitutional barriers in the way of women who want to obtain abortions. The group, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Reproductive Rights, filed the lawsuits Wednesday.

In North Carolina, they are looking to strike down the state’s ban on abortions performed after 20 weeks gestation except in the instance of a medical emergency. In Missouri, the groups are challenging laws requiring that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals and that abortions be performed only in ambulatory surgery centers. The groups said that most women in the state need to travel to one clinic in St. Louis to get abortions. The laws are similar to Texas restrictions struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.

And in Alaska, the groups are challenging a state law that bans abortions in outpatient health centers after the first trimester of pregnancy, claiming it forces many women to leave the state to obtain an abortion after the first trimester.

— Katie Zezima

Murder conviction sought for police officer

A white police officer who fired eight shots at the back of an unarmed black motorist during a foot chase in North Charleston, S.C., should be convicted of murder or manslaughter, a prosecutor argued Wednesday after a month-long trial.

Malice, the evidence required for a murder conviction, had to be in Officer Michael Slager’s mind the instant he fired at Walter Scott, who at that point was running away and posed no threat to him, Solicitor Scarlett Wilson argued. Five of the bullets struck Scott in the back.

Manslaughter — a lesser charge the judge agreed to include Wednesday at the prosecution’s request — requires proof the killing was done in the heat of passion, after being provoked, Wilson told jurors in her closing arguments.

Scott ran from his car into a vacant lot after Slager pulled him over for a broken taillight in April 2015. Slager chased him down. A bystander recorded the final moments of the encounter in a video that shocked the nation.

Slager was fired from the North Charleston police force shortly after the video was released.

— Associated Press