Friday, May 29, 2009

More attacks on elderly smokers

San Lorenzo Park Apartments is a 78-unit senior’s housing complex, subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In February, smoking tenants were given 90 days to quit smoking or face eviction from the Santa Cruz, California facility. As a small concession to smokers, they will be permitted to light up in a small corner of a garden, more than 50 feet from the complex, in weather fair or foul.

Mary Tustin of the John Stewart Co. (managers of the building) says: "It's just been problematic for the non-smokers with asthma and those who find the smell offensive.”

According to the article, “management was bombarded with complaints of secondhand smoke” and decided threat of eviction was “the only way to force everyone to comply.” Everyone meaning smokers. But, there was nothing in the article to suggest that the management company did any investigative review of the alleged problem.

For example, when they say they were bombarded with complaints, what exactly do they mean? Were the complaints from 10 individuals complaining once or one individual complaining multiple times? How many of the complainants actually suffered from asthma where cigarette smoke was a known trigger? How many were just “offended by the smell”? What other actions were considered or taken by management to alleviate the concerns of non-smokers? Or did they just follow the anti-smoker playbook and resort to a smoking ban as their first response?

Tustin is quick to point out that there is no "right to smoke," and smokers are not a protected class under fair housing laws. This, of course, makes this draconian action against the half-dozen or so smokers at San Lorenzo Park Apartments perfectly acceptable in the judgment of Tustin.

Dorothy Del Mar, 82, and Alice Welch, 85, are both life-long smokers who reside at the complex. And, the threat of eviction has obviously added a significant amount of stress to the lives of these octogenarians. Says Welch: "This warning has fouled up our health. We're thinking, where are we going to go? We have nowhere to go."

But as callous as the building management might be in the persecution of the elderly smokers in the complex, some of the comments made by readers are even more inconsiderate.

Said one comment: “Evict these elderly chimneys! They are ruining the health of the non-smoking residents. Send them down to the river and let them smoke with the other indigents under the bridge. Face the facts Gramps, if you smoke, you can’t live here. We don’t want you or your lousy cigarettes any more.”

And another: “Smoking seeps through all the cracks, vents, doorways, and from window to window. It’s crazy to think that we should let seniors in government assisted housing contribute to the ongoing health issues of seniors in the complex.”

And, this: “Prohibition doesn't work. But restrictions do. Restrict cigarettes to a small corner of hell where they belong.”

This kind of shoddy treatment of the elderly and infirm is not new. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

The de-normalization campaign launched by the anti-smoker cult is obviously having the desired effect. The cultists have succeeded in convincing a large portion of the population that secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard rather than a mere nuisance. The constant repetition of suspect science and exaggerated statistics has exhausted the public’s ability to apply any measure of common sense.

The propaganda of the cultists has created an irrational fear of SHS which has led to the blatant persecution of all smokers, not just the residents of the Santa Cruz senior’s complex.

Mary Tustin may be correct; there is no legal right to smoke. But, the lack of any specific right to smoke should not be used as an excuse to discriminate against the most vulnerable members of society; the elderly and infirm.

It should not be used to ignore the moral obligation to reach a reasonable compromise and allow these aging smokers a measure of dignity in their final years. But then, compassion and thoughtfulness are unknown among the disciples of the Holy Church of the Anti-Smoker.


Michael J. McFadden said...

"It should not be used to ignore the moral obligation to reach a reasonable compromise and allow these aging smokers a measure of dignity in their final years. But then, compassion and thoughtfulness are unknown among the disciples of the Holy Church of the Anti-Smoker."

Very well said Rambler!

You and your readers might be interested in another front in the war being fought over yet another "New Study" out there that help lay the groundwork for stuff like this. If you visit and read his columns and comments for May 27th and 29th you'll find the full disgusting story, including the sculptured half-million dollar grant behind the study where the authors promised their results would help promote smoking bans even before they DID the study!


Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Anonymous said...

I am an 82 year old smoker. I am SICK of people telling me I HAVE to quit because it is " SO BAD for me!" I have been smoking since the ripe old age of 14. If you do the math, that means I have been a cigarette smoker for almost 70 years. If I haven't quit by now, then LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE! By the way, I do NOT show evidence (according to my GP) of ANY lung disease. (Although I HAVE had a heart attack and quadruple bypass about a year and a half ago. My cardiologist told me he knew I would probably start smoking again. My wife is also a smoker. So let me get this straight. He actually expected ME, a life long smoker to suddenly QUIT while going home to another pack a day smoker?! Of COURSE I'm going to start again!) Yes, I am an elderly smoker. If the antis can't deal with it, then they need to move over. I fought for them in WW2. I have EARNED my right to continue to be a smoker! All four of my sons are smokers as well. Fortunately, they seem to have the same good gene pool as their mother and I. Smoking is bad for some, not as bad for others. LEAVE US ALONE and let people make their OWN decisions on how to live their life. At this point, we have NO intentions of quitting. If it kills us, it is God's will. Yet we still hear idiotic comments about how much longer we could live if we did not smoke. I'm 82. How much longer would I actually HAVE anyway?! I'm sorry if you find the fact that I smell of tobacco offensive. I also find the fact that our video gam playing 30 year old fat butt probably can't outrun ME, a smoker of 68 years! WHEN is the government going to realize that obesity is a MUCH greater health threat?

Anonymous said...

Our state agency group insurance program is about to tack a %30 a month per smoker penalty to the policy. This makes sense to them because smokers often cost more in terms of health care. It is a fairly lopsided solution though since the agencies in question are staffed by a very large percentage of clinically and morbidly obese individuals. If they would surcharge them, the profits they draw for the insurance company would grow substantially.