Smoking seniors refuse to butt out
Senior Antonio Pecile lights up a cigarette in a smoking area outside of his retirement home. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS)
The BC Civil Liberties Association is asking Vancouver Coastal Health to accommodate senior citizens who were recently banned from smoking in their retirement home.
Vancouver Coastal Health, which provides funding to Haro Park Centre among others, introduced a smoke-free premises policy in 2008. Residential and palliative care facilities were given extra time to implement the ban.
Since Aug. 7, Haro Park residents must walk to a street bench to smoke. Residents and their doctors say this is more dangerous to their health than smoking.
"Even if you are 91 years old, even if your doctor says this is putting your health at risk, the health authority is mandating that you go outside in all seasons in order to have your cigarette," said Micheal Vonn, policy director with the civil liberties association.
Policy makers need to look past the blanket statements about secondhand, she said.
"Generally the appropriate thing to do here is some form of accommodation."
Patricia Daly, chief medical officer at Vancouver Coastal Health, said an accommodation has already been made.
"Our accommodation is to provide an outdoor smoking area and nicotine replacement therapy free of charge,'' she said.
Vonn said nicotine replacement is not enough.
"If your rights are burdened to the degree that they are imperiling your well being, then clearly it's not an exercise of your rights,'' she said. "It's a violation of your rights."