Archive for Monday, June 7, 2010

Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority considering smoking ban in its apartments

The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority will decide later this month if it will ban smoking in all of its apartments, which provide living situations for the elderly and disadvantaged.

June 7, 2010


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A new type of smoking ban may be coming to more than 400 Lawrence homes.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority is considering a ban that would prohibit residents from smoking inside authority-owned apartments, such as Edgewood Homes, Babcock Place, Peterson Acres and Clinton Place.

“We understand they are all adults and can make the choice of whether to smoke,” said Barbara Huppee, executive director of the authority. “But there is an issue of social justice for people who don’t smoke but are affected by the secondhand smoke and the impact it has on their property. And then, there’s the risk of fire.”

It was a fire in November at Babcock Place that got the authority’s board thinking about a ban. The fire was the result of smoking and caused $40,000 in damages. A fire in 2000 at Babcock caused $250,000 in damages.

The ban would prohibit all indoor smoking in properties owned by the housing authority, which provides subsidized housing to elderly and low-income people. Residents would be allowed to smoke outside, including on covered porches. Huppee said a new state law prohibiting smoking within 10 feet of a doorway won’t apply to housing authority properties because they are residences, not public spaces. Privately owned residences that are part of the authority’s Section 8 housing program would not be covered by the ban.

Reactions from residents have been mixed. One survey by the housing authority found about 70 percent support for some sort of smoking ban. The staff estimates 25 percent to 30 percent of residents in the authority’s 429 units smoke.

“I don’t even begin to understand how they can ban a legal substance in somebody’s own home,” said Pat Benabe, who lives in an authority housing unit. “We’re talking about a lot of older people who have a lifetime habit. I’m not promoting smoking. I wish I hadn’t started, but it is an addiction that you can’t just stop.”

If the ban wins approval — the authority’s board is expected to discuss it at a meeting late this month — Huppee said staff will develop an enforcement strategy. She said enforcement would be gradual and would include programs that would help people stop smoking, if they so desire.

Huppee also said her agency is confident about the legality of a ban. About 150 housing authorities across the country have banned smoking to different degrees, and the department of Housing and Urban Development is now urging the bans, she said.

Some residents still feel like their rights are being infringed.

“I know they say there is nothing in the Constitution that says you have a right to smoke,” Benabe said. “But turn that over and there is nothing in the Constitution that says you don’t have the right to smoke.”

The housing authority’s board next meets at 5:30 p.m. on June 28 at Edgewood Homes, 1600 Haskell Avenue.


aletheia 3 years, 10 months ago

The LHA provides a service within our community to individuals who have fallen on hard times -- whether by choice or circumstance is beside the point. They are the property owner and therefore can make the rules. Life's a trade-off. If you choose to live in public housing, you, in turn, have agreed to live by the rules created. The LHA has a right to provide smoke-free housing, just as smoker's have a right to seek their own housing -- either purchase their own or rent from a landlord who allows it.


costello 3 years, 10 months ago

I wonder what percentage of those receiving housing assistance are disabled due to mental illness. The mentally ill, especially schizophrenics, smoke in higher rates than the general population. Up to 90% of schizophrenics smoke, possibly because it helps with some of their symptoms or because it helps with the side effects of their medications. I've heard that at least some schizophrenics have to make adjustments to their medications or dosages when they quit smoking.


lawrenceparent 3 years, 10 months ago

omg... talk about owning someones life


jrlii 3 years, 10 months ago


While I don't much approve of smoking, go right ahead so long as I don't have to breath it.

And that, I would say should be the standard.

If the units in a building have independent heating, ventilation & air-conditioning systems, then smoking should be OK.

However when units share air handlers, then smoking should be forbidden, 'cause the shared air handlers will circulate smoke into neighbor's units.


Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 10 months ago

I find it fascinating that so many are so interested in the lives of total strangers. I don't drink alcohol or smoke, but I have never been tempted. On the other hand, I will be buying a Snickers ice cream bar today, and don't even think about getting in my way. Hey, I just made a poem. I am leery of telling someone else what to spend their money on because they could come back at me. But, in the case of alcohol or cigarettes, those things impact more than just the user. I think someone should at least attempt to explain to these smokers why they could be using that money for something else. Maybe places like Babcock and Edgewood could set up a no smoking clinic and make it mandatory.


MattressMan 3 years, 10 months ago

So there we have it the majority have spoken, anyone in a residence that is being subsidized by the government should be banned from smoking.

So listen up...Anyone with a freddie loan, fannie loan, VA loan or any other loan programs backed by the government stop smoking in your house NOW!


grammaddy 3 years, 10 months ago

Looks like another excuse for Huppee to stick her nose into someone else's business.Ugh! We lived in Edgewood back in the late 80's and Der Fuhrer was all over everything anyone did. We moved out finally because it felt like there were hidden cameras everywhere. There was no air conditioning there then and she was constantly on people about using too much water to fill wading pools in the summer. I feel sorry for those who are not able to afford to live anywhere else. I believe the last fire out there was caused by maintenance people not residents.


think_about_it 3 years, 10 months ago

Worth repeating, Liberty275 from above:

"When you cede your life over to the nanny state, don't come whining when your nanny takes runs your life because she knows what's better for you than you do.."


whats_going_on 3 years, 10 months ago

Ugh, this one strikes a note with me. I don't live in these residences, but rather a condo and since they are individually owned, you can do what you like. So...when the guy above me doesn't have his air or heat going, the smoke seeps down into my place and it smells TERRIBLE. Gives me headaches, makes me sick to my stomach...just nasty. I wish people just wouldn't smoke, period. :(


Bassetlover 3 years, 10 months ago

To me, it's not an issue if the housing is subsidized with taxpayer money. Rather I would love to see a ban on all smoking in any type of multi-unit dwelling. There have been so many fires caused by careless smoking in apartment buildings/complexes. Inevitably, thousands of dollars of damage is the end result, not to mention the other tenants adversely impacted as well. If you live in a single-unit dwelling, smoke to your hearts content. If you burn the place down, you only destroy what belongs to you. But you don't have the right to ruin what belongs to others because of your lifestyle choices.


Richard Heckler 3 years, 10 months ago

I say go for it.

Many Babcock residents already smoke outside.


bigdave 3 years, 10 months ago

Let them smoke cigarettes as long as the meth lab is not running!!!! Don't want to blow up the meth lab next door!!!!


Armored_One 3 years, 10 months ago

And I quote:

scott3460 (anonymous) replies… Agreed. Why are we subsidizing drug addicts?

And if it was a halfway house for heroine addicts or meth addicts, would you be so quick to condemn them?


Eride 3 years, 10 months ago

I want to add that I find it insulting that people are whining about restrictions being placed on how they spend our money.


David Albertson 3 years, 10 months ago

FYI, the Lawrence Housing Authority is self sufficient and has been since the mid 90's. They receive no federal money for daily operations.


corkster 3 years, 10 months ago

while i get that a lot of apartment complexes and landlords who own and rent out houses have made their properties nonsmoking, the housing authority is more of a public service. the people who take advantage of this, who need it, don't have the luxury of choosing among properties who do allow smoking. they have enough challenging circumstances in their lives, and adding a nonsmoking policy to their limited options just doesn't seem fair. yeah, smoking is bad for you, and it's in everyone's best interest if cigarettes were never invented in the first place. however, come on. give them a break. if you want to use the logic that smoking is a fire hazard, are you gonna ban candles too? i dunno, i guess maybe it would be a positive thing if they were forced to quit because if they need to use the housing authority, they probably don't have/can't afford health insurance. but who is anyone to decide for them? it's like saying, "hey, here are your food stamps, but you can't buy ice cream!" hmmm, yeah it would benefit them to quit, but they're looking for help for a place to live, not for their smoking habit. i say personal freedom prevails.


barrypenders 3 years, 10 months ago

Legalize 'Maryjane' though. That 'Smoke' is good for your eyes.

Stimulus, PAD Pakalolo Smoke Rejuvenates, and Posercare live unprecedented

Darwin bless us all


pace 3 years, 10 months ago

If one needs help with rent I think it is only fair that they be denied not only the right to have children but to visit the ones they have. They should not be allowed to go to any ol church t but should be assigned to either the church closest to them or to ones willing to transport them. If someone is handicapped or ill they should only be allowed such foods that are healthy and affordable. If such food is not available at reasonable prices they should be given the area between the sidewalk and street to grow food, if they keep it weedfree and attractive. They should not be allowed to buy books or access information sources such as the INTERNET or television. Certain edifying books or pictures will be sent to them but such material will only be on loan and must be returned. There is no way we can make life fair for those who have been thoughtful enough to have their full health, not to age past their income, nor be so careless as to come down with a condition or disease that debilitates them in any way, this includes mobility, hearing, sight or speech. Anyone who has been so careless as to well be poor or differently abled should make it up to those who are normal. There are really only about 49 normal people in town here. The other seemingly normal people are in debt and have family that helps them when it gets tough. Big hurray for the normal people who never use subsidized services such as streets, fire and police protection, etc.. May they pass this earth before they ever need anything they can't buy.


LJ Whirled 3 years, 10 months ago

Smoke permeates the interior materials and, to that extent damages the residence by imparting a lingering odor and often a yellowish discoloration. It also causes "goo" to accumulate in the central heat and air systems, shortening the life of the system and reducing efficiency (take a look at a smoker's furnace where the cold air return comes in ... it's nasty). This is a reasonable and positive rule.

A little more social justice, perhaps, is that if you can't afford a home, then you can't afford cigarettes. If you CAN afford cigarettes, then why are we paying for your home?

Ban smoking in subsidized housing.


Liberty275 3 years, 10 months ago

When you cede your life over to the nanny state, don't come whining when your nanny takes runs your life because she knows what's better for you than you do..


bigdave 3 years, 10 months ago

They can't stop them from smoking weed crack and meth how are they going to stop them from smoking cigarettes?!!


SanteeSlumDweller 3 years, 10 months ago

" beobachter (anonymous) replies…

If you aren't able to pay your full rent, then you do not have right to do whatever you want there. If you want freedom to make your own decisions, no problem pay all of your bills with no taxpayer help."

So by your logic beobachter, if someone wanted to open a business in which smoking was allowed, they would be able to as long as that business received no government assistance?

Also by your logic, persons who wished to make "their own decisions" should be allowed to do if such a decision included such things as deciding whether or not to enter, work in or patronize a place in which smoking was permitted as long as such persons were not receiving government subsidies to do so.

Your own logic Komrade beobachter, torpedoes a huge hole in the unseaworthy boat that is the smoking ban.


macon47 3 years, 10 months ago

we all hate people that take advantage of the system unless we get away with it too!

thats the lawrence way


a1983amber 3 years, 10 months ago

I think that instead of worrying about smoking in their units they should spend there time enforcing the rules!!! I have a Townhome down the street that has a resident that gets almost all of her $800 rent paid monthly by the housing authority But what they don't care about is that her Boyfriend who is a felon is living there and not working and not on the lease! I called and wrote emails telling them that he lived there and they did nothing!!! Drives me nuts! I work very hard to support my kids and I think that other people should have to do the same! I hate people who take advantage of the system!


izzybear 3 years, 10 months ago

i understand that the ldcha has concerns about property damage to their units but nobody has the right to tell you what you can or can not do in your home as long as it is legal. a smokeing ban is takeing away a persons right to choose it takes away free will and free choice. people pay for those places and they have a right to smoke if they so choose. until or unless smoking becomes illegal. there is more damage done to units thru drinking then smoking but they are not worried about that . i quit smoking after 20 years but that was my choice. nobody has the right to choose what goes on in your home and when you sign a lease it is yours. the government does not have the right to tell you what you can or can not do we are not a dictatorship we have the right to choose and noone should have a say in what we do to ourselves in the privicy of our paid for home. i have a right to do what i want to myself and no one has the right to tell me what i can or can not do. no one has the right to force me to live the way someone else wants me to. i am a free person able to make my own decisions i am an adult i don't need mommy telling me what i can or can not do.


oneeye_wilbur 3 years, 10 months ago

Good, but will Ms. Huppee continue to let them smoke outside and litter the places?


skinny 3 years, 10 months ago

Good Idea, if they can afford to smoke then we don't need to be helpin them with their rent!!


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