Resident: I won't abide by 'unenforceable' PHA smoking ban

Resident: I won't abide by 'unenforceable' PHA smoking ban

PAWTUCKET - A resident of a downtown subsidized housing facility says he plans to keep smoking despite a new smoking ban, and will file a legal challenge if anyone tries to punish him for it.

Jerry Daniels, a resident of Fogarty Manor on Roosevelt Avenue, told The Breeze that new anti-smoking policies being implemented in the city are "unenforceable," "unnecessary," and are "only causing problems."

Already there are no smoking signs out in front of Fogarty Manor, said Daniels, and residents are being asked to walk at least 50 feet away from the facility to smoke. But that's not stopping him from continuing to smoke even in areas where signs are placed prominently.

"This is my act of civil disobedience," said Daniels. "I will smoke in my apartment and I will smoke outside."

Daniels said he is just waiting "to be violated" by someone from the PHA before he proceeds with a lawsuit against the organization. Already he has been approached twice by security and asked to stop smoking, said Daniels, but he refused and was then left alone.

Officials from the Pawtucket Housing Authority will find it is "impossible" to enforce the smoking ban when it goes into full effect next August, says Daniels, and he and others plan to keep smoking even once it's in place.

"There's no way to enforce a smoking ban without violating our rights," he said. "This smoking ban did not start from the ground up and is not an answer to people's concerns that this place be smoke-free. It came from bureaucrats."

If the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development had made a blanket rule across the country against smoke, he would have "no problem with it," said Daniels, but instead they left it up to local housing authorities, which are dependent on the federal organization for funding.

As of Aug. 1, 2014, all residents of four Pawtucket facilities that house elderly and disabled residents - Fogarty Manor, St. Germain Manor, Kennedy Manor and Burns Manor - will only be allowed to smoke in designated smoking areas. There will be no smoking allowed at either of the Pawtucket Housing Authority's family facilities, Galego Court and Prospect Heights.

Because he was already living in the building when the rules went into force this year, Daniels is allowed to keep smoking in his room until next August, according to the new rules. But just as with new residents, he is banned from smoking in the designated non-smoking areas and asked to either go out to the sidewalk or to a designated area behind the building to smoke.

Stephen Vadnais, executive director of the PHA, said Monday that he has "more important things to deal with in this world" than "obstinate people" like Daniels who "break the rules."

"People break the rules all the time, but you pick your battles," he said. "We have much more serious offenses going on right now."

If Daniels wants to "isolate" and put his behavior "on display," said Vadnais, "that speaks volumes" as to the person he is.

"I'm not picking a fight with Jerry Daniels," he said. "You walk away from the schoolyard bully."

If residents like Daniels don't comply with the rules by next year, said Vadnais, PHA officials will need to look at "tougher enforcement," but they are really hoping that residents like Daniels agree to comply on their own accord. Like speeders who disregard road signs, someone will probably always be breaking the rules here, he said.

The non-smoking policy in public housing that the PHA is implementing was issued back in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees local housing authorities.

The policy "strongly encourages public housing authorities to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units."

Daniels, 66, moved to Fogarty Manor in 2010. Back then he could smoke anywhere he liked except the main common areas in the building, he said.

Very few housing authorities across the country have smoking bans in place, he said, and the majority are in "blue states," said Daniels.

The rules at Fogarty, as they are in other places, are based on plenty of "false" information, said Daniels. There is no way that the "self-contained" units here would allow smoke under the doors, through walls, or through the vent system, as suggested by officials, he said.

"I don't smell bacon and I don't smell coffee from other apartments," said Daniels.

The ban that is gradually being implemented in Pawtucket Public Housing facilities is pitting "neighbor against neighbor," said Daniels, leading some residents to write down names of those who are breaking the rules.

Daniels has been smoking for 54 years, since he was 12, and says the cigarettes he smokes are a "legal product" that should not be taken away. If smokers are allowed to be targeted like they are now, he said, who's next? Will someone next year be coming along to take away fries and doughnuts?

Daniels has no desire to quit smoking after doing it for so long, but he understands what he is doing to his body.

"It's a filthy, rotten, dirty, expensive, unattractive habit," he said. "But it's an addiction nonetheless."

Comments

Speaking as a nicotine addict myself, I understand Mr. Daniels need to smoke. But, it's selfish A-HOLES like this guy that make my blood boil! Mr. Vadnais is correct in stating that this man's actions speak volumes as to the person he is. Mr. Daniels epitomizes everything wrong with our society today. "SCREW EVERYONE...I'm going to do whatever I want, regardless of who it adversely affects or is inconvenienced by my actions!" Hopefully, Mr. Daniels will smoke himself out of this world soon, so none of us will have to put up him much longer. With all of the laws, regulations, restrictions, etc...nicotine should be a controlled substance by now. The fact that it is not just proves the absolute power of the big cigarette companies.

Doesn't subsidized mean help with paying rent?? So you need help paying rent and want the governments help but don't want to follow the rules. Not surprised! He is probably buying the cigarettes with his food stamp card the government gave him as well.

Smoke away sir, I'll gladly take your subsidy and apply it to my mortgage, or my federal tax bill, or my grocery bill, heating oil bill etc.

Mr. Daniels,

This battle has already been fought by an evicted resident of the Lincoln Manor.

Most of the money Mr. Daniels pays for his cigarettes goes right back into taxes which are being used for any excuse to spend them. So, back off on the notion that this man should spend no portion of his income -- whatever the source -- for a little enjoyment in his life; or at least the criticism should not be disproportionate to all other "offenses" in this regard "committed" by low income/subsidized citizens across the fruited plain. Mr. Daniels, behind his closed doors, has just as much right to privacy and the quiet enjoyment of his premises behind his own closed doors. Don't like it? Don't ask to be invited in, and puh-lease (as for the lecture about how rude the screw-you world is these days) mind your manners, and kindly refrain from peeking in his keyhole.

Good people disobey bad laws. And for all you people who see this in an isolated manner and point to other incidents to say the same (eviction) will befall Mr. Daniels apparently never heard of an idea catching on and becoming a movement. With each defiant act more will stand their ground, causing a push back that will defeat this anti-smoker hysteria.

Of all the ugly sides to the mercenaries working for the tobacco CONTROL industry and their sponsors, the pharmaceutical companies, this is one of the worst. No doubt if Mr Daniels fails to kow-tow to the zealots, they will demand he be evicted and take great pleasure in seeing him homeless. This evil is not new, similar treatment was metered out to negroes in 1960’s USA, by Mugabe in Africa against certain minorities and to jews in Germany, to name but a few.

Fortunately many people are waking up to the fact that anti-smoker nutters are causing nothing but damage and serious injury to individuals and society in general. The sooner good men stand together and purge this destructive, albeit waning, force from ALL societies the better. Public health will improve, it will boost economies and people will begin to enjoy again those freedoms lost as a result of this ideological agenda.

Politicians can end this much sooner - all they have to do is to STOP funding these anti-smoker nutters. Most are in it for their own self-enrichment and without the easy money politicians provide they will slither away in search of their next cash cow.

Mr Daniels, I salute you Sir for having the courage to stand against these cowardly bullies. There are many who will stand beside you to give these anti-smoker nutters the proverbial bloody nose that they deserve.

Now the zealots are into our homes and the outdoors. But wait, if they stopped now, how will they continue sustaining the lucrative carriers they make out of our taxes and Big Pharma grants? Nice job if you can get it.

Kudos to Mr. Daniels for standing up to these greedy ''do-gooders''. More people should follow his lead. Enough of society sustaining these parasitic lobbies addicted to the filthy habit of meddling in other people's lives right down to violating the privacy of their own homes.

They say only the good die young, if that's the case Mr. Daniels is going to live a long life, regardless of how many cigarettes he smokes.

Curious minds want to know whether the smoking ban applies to medical marijuana as well as evil tobacco.