Jordan Towers go smoke free July 1The Jordan Towers are coming down to their last puff. On Thursday, the high-rise complex that houses many senior, disabled and low-income residents will go smoke free.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
The Jordan Towers are coming down to their last puff. On Thursday, the high-rise complex that houses many senior, disabled and low-income residents will go smoke free.
Residents will no longer be allowed to smoke in their rooms or elsewhere inside the buildings. Smoking on the premises will be limited to a patio area between the towers.
"If that's the way it's got to be, that's the way it is. I'm not going to move," said Joseph Noel, a resident who says he's begun weaning himself off cigarettes.
The Red Wing Housing and Redevelopment Authority governs the towers. The HRA Board approved the ban in January. The ban conforms with a July 2009 directive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- the federal agency that provides much of the funding for facilities like the Jordan Towers -- recommends public housing authorities prohibit smoking in their buildings.
Over the past six months staff members have been working to inform residents of the new rules.
There has been "surprisingly little" uproar about the policy, HRA Social Service Coordinator Enid Reames said. To date no one has cited the ban as a reason for leaving the towers.
Reactions sampled by the R-E were predictably mixed. Some residents expressed frustration, while other residents spoke in favor of the ban and a number said they saw it both ways.
Some, like Noel, said a ban is fine but current tenants should be grandfathered in. He said smokers were required to buy air purifiers if they wanted to smoke in their rooms.
But Reames said secondhand smoke remained a major concern. She said the way the towers are ventilated means little can be done to stop smoke from one room making its way to another room or area.
"There are a lot of people here who are vulnerable and there's no other way we can protect them," she said of the ban. She added that smoking increases the chances for household fires.
Reames said staff will take measures to enforce the rules and residents could be kicked out if they break them. Reames said that's not the aim of the ban. Rather, the goal is to help educate people about ways to quit.
For residents who continue to smoke there is a patio area at the base of Jordan II where smoking will be allowed.
"That's not bad in the summertime," said Noel, who added winter is another story altogether.
Resident Shirley Olson agrees. She said she's trying to quit by winter so she won't have to smoke in the cold.
Jerri Morris, a resident who quit smoking last August, said the policy is going to be hard on a lot of residents. Morris said she knows how hard it is to stop smoking and she fears those who are limited in their mobility will have an especially hard time when it comes to only smoking in the patio area.
Morris said that includes her mother, who also lives in the towers.
"There are people I care very much about that are struggling with this," she said.