Santa Cruz – The smoking war has reached a new and rather shocking height. The smokers are nowadays being exorcised from everywhere, even from their homes of many years.
The new flash of smokers’ discrimination occurred at San Lorenzo Park Apartments – complex for seniors where residents have been told to make a choice: they have to give up smoking within 3 months otherwise they would be evicted from their apartments. The new regulation has come like the bolt from the blue for those eighty-year-old seniors who began to puff on a cigarette when they were young people and even a thought of quitting had been like a crushing blow to them.
One of those ruthful residents, Alice Welch, 85 year-old lady who has been smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day for the last 40 years, cried that either eviction or smoking cessation would be the end of her. She said the she had nowhere to go so she risked finding herself in the street with her wheel-chair. She added that she almost had a heart attack when was told of the choice she would have to make.
San Lorenzo Park Apartments is a residential complex for low-income lonely seniors, owned by Jack Baskin a longtime Santa Cruz resident and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The complex counting 78 units was opened in 1983, and residents were permitted to smoke inside their rooms and on their balconies until 2003.
However, according to Mary Tustin of the John Stewart Co, the organization that manages the residential complex from the moment of its opening, the ban on smoking for all newly-arrived residents was imposed in 2003, although the rules have not been changed for seniors who had already been living in the complex at the moment of that change.
Tustin stated that their company has received a great number of complaints from non-smoking residents regarding the cigarette smoke which was penetrating into rooms neighboring smoker’s units and even into hallways. She said that management tried to settle that issue by hanging out several warnings in last March and October where the administration urged smokers to give up smoking otherwise they would be deprived form all smoking privileges irrespective of how long they have lived in the complex.
Yet, earlier this month, the administration was once again piled up with complaints and appeals to save people from exposure to secondhand smoke, therefore, they have decided to issue the new regulation stating that all smoking residents have to give up the habit in 90 days or vacate their units. According to Ms. Tustin the new regulation was the only way to make everyone to comply.
She also said that the administration understood how difficult it would be for them to give up smoking, however the smoke was the cause of health complications for people suffering from asthma or for those non-smokers who found the smoke smell offensive.
Tucson added that smoking was one of those addictions that had a negative impact on other people, but smokers were not protected by the law since there was no “right to smoke” in the legislation.
State and federal courts of law have confirmed the fact that smoking is not a regulated and protected practice under Constitution of the United States.
The question is what this handful of about a half-dozen senior smokers at San Lorenzo Park Apartments would do? Smoking is the only remaining pleasure available for them.
San Lorenzo resident Dorothy Del Mar, 82, complained that she started smoking when got married to a Navy sailor during World War II. She remembered that when she was young smoking was regarded as stylish and glamorous and every girl who wanted to be cool smoked.
Of course she is aware about the health risks related to smoking, she anyway puffs on several times each day since it still gives great pleasure. Ms. Del Mar said that she knew it was an addiction but it has been giving her such a lift that she simply could not stop.
Welch, Del Mar and the other senior smokers will be still permitted to smoke in a diminutive area of the back garden, which is more than 50 feet away from the complex. Simply imagine those elderly ladies one in the wheel-chair and another with crutches go there each time they want to light up no matter whether it is snowing or raining.
James Anderson Merritt, the Forest Group vice-president named the situation with senior smokers as persecution and expulsion of smokers. He stated that throwing those octogenerians into the street, in order to punish them for their “politically incorrect” habit is unacceptable and notorious since smoking was promoted in the first decades of their lives.
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