Minister clarifies province’s smoking policy in seniors homes

Dave Stewart
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Charlottetown-Lewis Point MLA Kathleen Casey asked government to clarify the province's smoking policy in seniors' homes. While smoking is banned in public places, seniors' care facilities are treated as homes, so residents are allowed to smoke in their rooms but not common areas.

The issue of seniors smoking in provincial seniors' homes made it to the floor of the P.E.I. legislature on Tuesday.

Charlottetown-Lewis Point MLA Kathleen Casey rose during question period to ask Valerie Docherty, minister of community services and seniors, to clarify the province’s smoking policy in seniors’ homes.

Casey represents an area of the capital that has a significant number of seniors units.

Docherty said there have been some comments in the media and calls of frustrations over the smoking policy.

In 2009, the province designated some seniors’ buildings smoke-free or sections of them smoke-free.

Docherty said the intention was to move slowly in the direction of eliminating smoking from provincial seniors’ homes.

“We realize that we can’t have it totally non-smoking because we do have smokers,’’ Docherty said in an interview after question period.

“The problem where this comes from is I don’t smoke but you do. My tolerance for it might not be quite as good as the next person and some would like to see us implement the non-smoke policy in public buildings.’’

Docherty said while the seniors’ homes in question are public buildings they are also people’s homes.

Casey said the challenge is trying to co-exist in the same building in those where smoking is allowed. She also noted the smell of cigarette smoke can pose a health hazard to people who have pre-existing conditions.

Docherty said education is part of it.

“We have to make sure you as a resident who likes to smoke that you understand you can smoke in your own unit (and) you can smoke outside but you can’t smoke in the hallways and you can’t smoke in the common rooms.’’

She said all seniors are informed of what the policy is prior to moving in.

“I have a fear that sometimes that somebody will accept a unit next to somebody who is smoking to get in (the building) yet they’re not happy with the fact that there is a smoker beside them.’’

Docherty said smoke-free buildings will eventually become the norm but until then if anyone has a complaint that someone is smoking where they shouldn’t be to contact the department’s housing officers.

“We’ll follow up. We’re going to know if you smoke in your room. An eviction could happen, if indeed you are breaking the rules and you’re not dealing with the warnings.’’

Geographic location: P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Iro Cyr
    April 10, 2014 - 14:18

    Sorry but a person who has smoked most of their lives and made it to a ripe old age shouldn't be expected to just give up one of the only pleasures in life left for them irrelevant whether it's an addiction or not according to whichever definition of addiction one gives to smoking. And if it is in fact an addiction as powerful as heroin and cocaine as the health ''authorities'' like to spout, then it would be criminal not to make accommodations for senior smoking citizens. The problem is that our governments bent too far to the whims of the anti-smoker lobbies and whiners, they now have to deal with the consequences. Some serious backtracking is in order. The same rules that apply to smokers who have to agree to only smoke in their rooms or outdoors when they are admitted to the residences should also apply to anti-smoker residents who agree to be in a room beside a smoker ''just to get in the building'' and complain once they have their foot in the door.

  • Vince
    April 10, 2014 - 11:31

    Secondhand smoke is harmless.Quote from an IARC (WHO) study; "Statistically significant results were the reduced risk from childhood exposure and the increasing trend in risk for weighted duration of exposure to ETS from the spouse or at the workplace. Vehicles and public indoor settings did not represent an important source of ETS exposure. The analysis according to time since last exposure suggested no increase in risk when a long time (i.e., —15 years) had elapsed since cessation of exposure."

  • Fed up
    April 09, 2014 - 11:35

    Surely we don't expect the government to torture seniors by not letting them smoke?!?! Just look at patients in the QEH walking down/up hill...across the street...dragging their IV poles....they don't consider THAT torture? I don't smoke but I also don't throw stones at the ones who do....non smokers have gone way too far with their demands...while driving after just having a drink...which you can do almost everywhere....

    • Peter
      April 09, 2014 - 17:18

      to "fed up" You're right, and I agree, but it's isn't the "non smokers" (of which you are one), that have gone too far ... it's the "anti-smokers".

  • Bonnie
    April 09, 2014 - 11:14

    to "Just be Fair" - seriously, you're comparing obesity with smoking? I'm sorry, but if a person beside me eats 10 hamburgers that's not going to harm me. If someone pops a bottle of pills beside me - again no harm comes to me personally. HOWEVER, if that same person sits beside me and smokes 10 cigarettes, that's a different story. My choice to live a healthy, smoke free life should come before someone who has chosen to risk theirs to cancer (and those around them). And what about the staff? Why should they be exposed to smoke that can harm them? Do they not get a say? I have had family who smoke and I feel for them - but with the education out there today I don't understand how we can be so lazy with protecting the health of our workers and the other residents who don't smoke.

    • Peter
      April 09, 2014 - 13:36

      to "Bonnie" You can always do what smokers are told to do... Go Outside!

  • jerry
    April 09, 2014 - 11:07

    Any property owned by the Taxpayers of PEI should be smoke free and enforced as such. That means nursing homes. That means PEI Housing Corporation properties. That means hospitals. That means schools. That means universities & colleges. That means prisons. That means government offices. That means any municipally-owned property too. Stop your bloody dithering Docherty and Currie ! Grow a pair...

    • Just Why
      April 10, 2014 - 07:43

      @ jerry , just why ? Did you pay more than I did in taxes & therefore own more of the building's than I do . I doubt that ! More likely you are one of them people that never had any power or say & just can't stay out of other peoples lives . A busy body , I think their called .

  • Just be Fair
    April 09, 2014 - 08:47

    Docherty said smoke-free buildings will eventually become the norm . What then will happen to us that smoke . Will we have to fend for ourselves & not benefit from all the taxes we've paid over the years that built these building's . We are not asking the obese( which s just as harmful to health) to stop eating as watching them waddle around offends us , or the pill heads to stop taking pills (for example)which could cause them to forget the stove on or the long term welfare to start paying their way . There will always be a certain number of people that want to be important & just can't leave other people alone . I am not in a senior's building but could need to be some day .That alone will be stressful enough with out changing my way of life as well . The thought of being forced to change a life time habit which I enjoy & relaxes me or be denied use of the services I paid for my whole working life is sicking . The policy is fair at present , don't let the habitual complainers change it . Just be fair to all .

  • Peter
    April 09, 2014 - 08:03

    I'm not an anti-smoker. Quite the opposite ... I think if people like to smoke, go for it. I did that for years .. a LOT of years (over 50). Then, as much as I like (love) smoking, as much pleasure as I get from smoking, I found something that gives me even greater pleasure. I haven't smoked for quite some time now, and I'm not going to say I'll never smoke again, but the pleasure I enjoy now is so much better, I can't imagine myself ever using tobacco again. So I guess you'd like know what this "great pleasure" is? OK... every day goes by that I don't buy cigarettes, I smile, actually, I gloat ... and say to myself, "Just screwed Sheridan out of another 10 bucks" ... and I smile. Thank You for the incentive Mr. Sheridan .... much appreciated... +BIG Smile+ Now, I hope every smoker in PEI does the same ... just so the "anti smokers" who have to pay out so much more can wonder just why their taxes went even higher. I'll get a lot of pleasure out of that too, because I know Sheridan will never give up tax money... he'll get it somewhere else ... and where else can he get it?

    • That is a good Post
      April 09, 2014 - 09:53

      I like your post and wish you many years of pleasure . LOL

  • Clarification please!
    April 09, 2014 - 07:20

    Is the topic about senior's housing as in apartment units? There is a distinct difference between senior's apt (ex the new Charlotte Court and the building complex at 501 Queen Street) and community care facilities (ex. Andrews in West Royalty and Charlotte Residence on All Soul's Lane). The community care facilities provide rooms to people usually private or semi-private. They also have staff in place to support their residents (meals, laundry, cleaning, assistance with personal care, and other supports depending on the facility. The community care facilities are privately owned whereas the subsidized seniors housing units are owned and maintained by the province. It causes concern to see this confusing information in a news report.