Smoking Ban Affecting Seniors

The Boyne City Housing Commission is moving two Boyne City apartment complexes to non-smoking areas as of Jan. 1, 2011. Litzenburger Place and Dear Meadows will go through a three-month transitional period to make way for smoke-free apartments headed by the Housing Commission. Frieda McCallum has lived in Litzenburger apartments for nearly eight years and feels that moving to non-smoking now is wrong. “When I moved in here eight years ago there was no rule,” said McCallum.“I’m not being kicked out. I’m being forced to move because of the situation.”

Executive Director of the Housing Commission, Sheila Smith, said concerns started several years ago before smoking came under fire statewide. Residents who moved in at that time were not allowed to smoke, and at the time there were nine smokers in the complexes.
“It is a health issue, and it’s been a health-risk in the country for a long time,” said Smith.

On Jan. 1, 2011 smoking will not be allowed in either of the apartment complexes, by anyone. For the time being, smoking is still permitted to those who are either moving or quitting. Ashtrays will not be placed outside anymore, and residents will be asked to smoke in their apartments or in other peoples apartments where smoking is allowed. For those residents who will find it hard to move to a new location, help will be given.

“We will work with them to limit the stressful issues of the smoking ban,” Smith said. Smith explained that another issue involved is the safety hazard of smoking in these particular apartment complexes. The apartments are 1972 wood-framed buildings, and have no cement dividers in between the floors or walls. “As people get more forgetful there is an increased chance of an accident, and I do not want to go through an apartment fire,” said Smith. “You can cover buildings and appliances (with insurance), but you can’t cover people.” McCallum said that, as of late, she has had a housing coordinator come in and help her fill out applications to new apartments. “I’m disabled,” McCallum said. “There is no way I can walk out to the road and have a cigarette even if I wanted to stay.”

Smith feels they are ultimately going down the right road even though the apartment complexes are exempt from the statewide smoking ban on most businesses including restaurants and bars, but not casinos. Smith said it is unfair to residents who have been at the apartments for a long time, but she has tried very hard to make the move as gradual as possible. “When Commissioner Grunch (Ron Grunch, a Boyne City Housing Commissioner) wanted to make it immediate I said the elderly people needed time to make the change so we began phases as of Oct. 1,” she said.

According to McCallum, she is not the only person who will move due to the impending regulation. “There are a lot of empty apartments here and there are four more of us leaving because of the ban,” McCallum said, “It doesn’t leave a good taste in your mouth.”

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