The Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority Board was approached by residents at one of its senior housing apartments calling for increased smoking restrictions.
Smoking was banned last year in the One West Apartments in Carlisle. Resident Shirley Copenhaver spearheaded the effort with complaints of the foul odor and health risks associated with secondhand smoke, particularly with senior residents who suffer from illnesses such as COPD.
The ban, however, has not quite fixed the issue, according to Copenhaver.
“They went halfway with it last year,” she said to the board, referring to action that was taken last year.
While the current ban prevents new tenants and tenants who move from one apartment to another from smoking, tenants who smoked before the ban was enacted are still able to do so. She sent around a petition last year that included 36 signatures from residents who agreed with the initial ban of smoking in the building. Once the ban was enacted, residents were given a 30-day comment period and smoking became designated to an outdoor area.
This year, Copenhaver sent around another petition and got 76 signatures. She said 25 refused to sign the petition this time around.
“We’re still having a lot of smoke in our building,” Copenhaver said. “People in their apartments that were still able to smoke, they grandfathered that in, and therefore, it’s still coming into our apartments.”
As she spoke to the board, she referred to a host of information and research she has done in regard to the health risks involved with secondhand smoke. She said that the apartment complex has many residents who are ill or having breathing problems, and that the smoking can compound those issues.
“The smoke isn’t helping the sick people,” she said. “They won’t come out of their apartments and walk in the hallways for exercise because of the fact of the smoke in the hallways. They can’t breathe, so they won’t come out.”
She also said that families of the residents in the apartments do not come to visit in the apartments due to the smell, which prevents residents from seeing children and grandchildren.
Ben Laudermilch, executive director of the Cumberland County Housing and Redevelopment Authorities, offered some assistance in the matter. He said that he would be willing to take the information that Copenhaver has compiled to the next Carlisle Senior board meeting.
“I think you’d make a compelling argument,” he said as he addressed Copenhaver, citing the petition and the amount of research she had.
Laudermilch said that the Redevelopment Authority Board would take the matter under consideration to determine the best course of action.