Seniors fuming over indoor smoking ban 0
Suzanne Del Buey is one of many seniors who are upset their retirement home has shut down its smoking room and they must now smoke in a dimly lit area outside. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)
Some elderly residents of a Vancouver retirement home say a smoking ban imposed on the facility by Vancouver Coastal Health is more dangerous to them than any cigarette smoke.
Suzanne Del Buey and her husband Francisco moved into Haro Park Centre nine years ago in large part because it had a smoking room. But Vancouver Coastal Health, which provides funding to the home, introduced a smoke-free premises policy in 2008 but gave residential and palliative care facilities more time to implement the ban. Since Aug. 7, Haro Park residents must walk to a street-side bench for a smoke.
"It's a very dark corner, it's very dangerous at night and we're a target for unbalanced people," said Suzanne Del Buey, who accompanies her 91-year-old husband outside when he smokes.
Francisco's doctor also wrote a letter to the home stating that being outside at night and in poor weather conditions is actually more detrimental to his health than smoking - which can be a helpful coping mechanism.
Del Buey said staff at the home have harassed her husband for smoking, including one who yelled at him: "It would be a good thing [for you] to die of cancer."
"I'm a cancer survivor," said Del Buey, pointing to the scars on her chest.
Residents and their families were consulted about the new outdoor smoking area before the change, said Catherine Kohm, Executive Director for Haro Park, adding, "It's not a very far walk and the weather is nice."
Smoking policies in every province in Canada have exemptions allowing smoking in palliative care and retirement homes.
But Vancouver Coastal Health defends the move, saying that four years was enough time for Haro Park residents to adjust.
"We can't allow an exemption that would permit indoor smoking because according to the World Health Organization, there is no safe level of second-hand smoke," said Patricia Daly, chief medical officer for Vancouver Coast Health.
Daly disputed Francisco Del Buey's doctor note.
"Smoking is always going to be more harmful for patients than any potential benefits that the physician believes may result from his smoking."
Del Buey said she'll continue to fight for her husband's right to smoke, and for other seniors unable to speak up for themselves.