Grant aims to make Wareham senior housing smoke-free

By Caitlin Russell | Nov 01, 2012
Courtesy of: Nancy Bonell Pictured from left to right: Keith A. Hovan, President and CEO of Southcoast Health System and Southcoast Hospitals Group,State Representative Christopher Markey, Robert Collett, Director of Cape Cod Regional Tobacco Control Program, Nancy LaRue Bonell, Vice President & COO of YMCA Southcoast, Steven A. Beauregard, Executive Director of the New Bedford Housing Authority, State Representative Antonio F. D. Cabral, Melissa Gonsalves, resident of Presidential Heights, Dr. David Weed, Director of Healthy City Fall River.

Smokers in Wareham's senior public housing will soon be asked to put out their cigarettes.

Wareham, along with New Bedford and Fall River, will be the focus of a new initiative, funded with a $1 million federal "Community Transformation" grant, aimed at eliminating smoking in multi-unit housing -- especially public housing.

The initiative will be directed by Voices for a Healthy Southcoast, a consortium of health-focused organizations spearheaded by YMCA Southcoast and SouthCoast Health Systems.

Working with Voices, the Wareham Housing Authority will seek to eliminate smoking in its two senior housing properties, Agawam Village and Redwood Park, and to introduce smoking cessation programs.

At some not-yet-determined future time, smoking will be prohibited on the properties -- but only after residents are given the opportunity to participate in smoking cessation programs.

“With smoking comes addiction, and we know that," said Nancy LaRue Bonell, vice president and chief operating officer of YMCA Southcoast and a Wareham resident. "We want to help [residents] with smoking cessation."

Wareham residents smoke at a rate above the state average, and the South Coast region has the highest rates of death from lung disease and cancer in the state.

“We see elderly and handicapped tenants at the Agawam and Redwood complexes smoking while using oxygen, not to mention the health risks of secondhand smoke,” said Pamela Sequeira, executive director of the Wareham Housing Authority.  “It is my hope that this project will provide an avenue for our residents to quit. I know it will improve their health and prolong their lives.”

Sequeira said that the Housing Authority surveyed residents about whether they’d be in favor of banning smoking. Only 20% of residents replied, but Sequeira said the responses were overwhelmingly in favor of doing so.

“Second-hand smoke is supposed to be worse for you than smoking, so if you have health issues already, smoke will exacerbate the issue,” Sequeira noted.

In a multi-unit housing complex, a smoker's non-smoking neighbors may be subjected to second-hand smoke, even when a wall stands between them and the smoker. This is part of the reason why there is a push to eliminate smoking in public housing.

“If people have low income, they don’t have a lot of choice as to where they live, and we want to protect their right to have smoke-free living conditions,” said Bonell.

Smoking rates are highest among low-income residents and people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

“We hope to create more interest in doing this voluntarily, from anyone who might be a landlord in any multi-unit housing,” said Bonell.

Established in 2009, Voices partners with community groups and local governments to promote healthy eating, physical fitness, smoking cessation, and other healthy activities.

Voices received the grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the purpose of implementing the Southcoast Healthy Housing and Workplace Initiative. According to an announcement of the grant, the project will "build community leadership and work with housing authorities, landlords and employers to eliminate tobacco exposure in multi-unit housing."

Comments (12)
Posted by: Mr. M. | Nov 01, 2012 19:23

Just more people interfering with other peoples personal lives. Next they will ban alcohol (liver disease), red meat (heart disease), candy (obesity), and whatever else THEY determine is bad for YOU.

Idiots. How about you focus on the DRUG problem in Wareham? I am sure a million bucks would go a long way in helping out there. Drugs lead to violence which leads to injuries and death.

I also think that with our national debt growing at an alarming rate our tax dollars should not be spent on grants. Any grant.

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Nov 02, 2012 06:34

Just another group of non-smokers coming up with ways to make people do what they want.  Typical wording.  Things like they are trying to "help".  Yeah, save it.  It is what it is.  One group trying to stop another group from doing what is legal.  Happens all the time now.  I love that 20% of people responded but "the responses were overwhelmingly in favor of doing so".  Tell me what percentage of those people are smokers.  That is more informative information.  I am guessing that the number is close to zero.

Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Nov 02, 2012 08:14

This is already in effect outside of Wareham so it's nothing new. But why should non-smoking residents be expected to live in a place that smells like an ashtray and be exposed to the health risks?  Why also would anyone allow smoking when oxygen's in use?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Nov 02, 2012 09:17

Your loss of freedom continues each and every day. When will it be enough for you? When will you vote out the liberals?

Posted by: Davidsgirl | Nov 02, 2012 13:26

Nonsense, this isn't about freedom or liberals it is about an addiction that impacts other peoples health in a negative way. Smoke away just don't do it where other people will be impacted. If every time someone in the apartment next door got drunk and you got a buzz because you lived so close people would be up in arms, why would deadly second hand smoke be ok?I think it's a great idea.

Posted by: Mr. M. | Nov 02, 2012 14:19

Then designate non-smoking buildings. I am not a smoker but I am tired of these goody two shoes telling others what is in their best interest. We are on the verge of communism served with a smile.

If all these people are so smart then why don't they solve things like the cost of healthcare, national debt, failing schools?

They aren't smart, they are idiots which is why they try to make us believe they are solving problems when in fact they are just spending tax dollars trying to make it look like they accomplish something.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Nov 02, 2012 16:03

Nicely said Mr M! They call it "Community Transformation" to veil what it really is going on, the standarization of the tax paying unit. Stuff like this will continue until we all conform to the American dream of someone else. It is about freedom and until we call these folks on it and drive them from positions of power it will continue. How long before the standard unit of a carbonated drink is 6 oz's? Laugh or deny but the proof is all around you.

Posted by: KAREN SPINKS | Nov 02, 2012 16:27

Mr M. The rising costs of healthcare are indeed an issue. I'm not really surprised to see physician assisted suicide on the ballot.  IMO this is driven more by economics than patient well-being.

The costs of healthcare are astronomical. Perhaps  the goal of the "smart people" is to try and reverse some of the unhealthy trends and strive for a healthier population.

Some people may object and feel that this is a loss of freedom. So, for the record, I'm not concerned about whether or not people choose to smoke or drink themselves to death. I am, however, concerned about the financial costs of maintaining an unhealthy population that is living longer.

Posted by: Mr. M. | Nov 02, 2012 19:29

True some people have unhealthy habits. Obesity costs a lot in healthcare. Diabetes, heart problems, and yet we are the fattest nation on the planet.

Maybe the next million bucks can be spent on food nazis who can inventory the kitchens of our impoverished elders to ensure they aren't eating Ring Dings?

You know the use of illicit drugs like heroin causes health problems too often born by working stiffs like us because addicts can't pass drug tests to actually earn a paycheck, instead we send them an allowance every month, buy their Ring Dings, AND provide them health insurance.

I work three jobs to support my family, proud of it too. I am a free man. I expect to remain a free man.

Again I say, butt out of our personal lives and do something to solve the real problems. You don't want a smoke living next door then segregate them. I don't care. For the love of Christ let free people have free choice.



Posted by: Shesback | Nov 03, 2012 01:15

Mr. M, if we do not ban alcohol, it will be you dying of liver disease if you decide to drink, not me.  If we don't ban red meat, it will be you dying of heart disease if you decide to eat that double cheeseburger, not me.  If we don't ban candy, it will be you dying of obesity if you decide to eat that candy bar, not me.  If we don't ban smoking in public areas, it will be me you are killing with your second hand smoke.

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Nov 03, 2012 03:18

I had better not drive my car in a parking lot that has people who may be walking either.  The second hand exhaust is most likely going to kill them as well.

Posted by: kyo | Nov 07, 2012 14:27

"asked" or TOLD. Senior citizens, more than any other age group, have certainly earned their right to drink and/or to smoke in their own rooms or apartments. It's no one business but their own. This NannyState is going too far. If people don't want others to engage in 100% legal activities, then they can move to Russia.

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