Issue 2.14 – Policy Decisions

The past week and a half saw a great deal of resident bickering and negotiations over smoking policies. In just ten days, the community had hosted a total of three Resident and Family Council meetings – the first to hear residents bring up concerns over the present situation, the second to present some options and now this one, which Charlie and Hazel were sitting in.

“Now, we took into consideration everyone’s concerns over the options that were presented a few days ago, and we’ve arrived at some decisions.” There was some audible grumbling from the smokers in the room, and despite the tension, the site manager continued on. “We will continue to abide by smoking legislation and ensure that this community is kept safe by reducing fire risks accordingly.”

“I’ve been smoking for sixty eight years and I’m not going to stop now!,” one man shouted from his chair. “Yeah, and that’s been doing you a world of good, hasn’t it Harold?,” a lady shouted back at him from across the room. There was more grumbling and arguing, and the site manager did her best to regain control over the crowd. “No one is forcing anyone to quit, though I do agree with Helga that it would be in the best interest of people’s personal health to consider some of the smoking cessation resources that have been provided.” “This is MY home. I pay to live here like everyone else and if I want to go out to MY courtyard and have a puff, I am well within the legislation and my rights to CHOOSE to do so,” Harold sternly said aloud. The site manager nodded. “It is Harold. And we as a community acknowledge that. Which is why we have ordered special receptacles for the courtyard and kindly ask that everyone who smokes in the courtyard smoke beside these receptacles and dispose of their cigarette butts properly. The grounds are used by other residents, and the daycare children. Which brings me to my next point.” The crowd had finally calmed down and now everyone listened attentively. “We share our community with toddlers, kindergarteners and out-of-school children. They have programming in the courtyard from 10:00 – 11:00 am, and then from 3:30 – 4:30 pm. We kindly ask that smokers refrain from smoking in the courtyard during these times, and instead use the area that will be set up with benches and receptacles at the far east corner during these times.” The site manager looked around at everyone in the room. “That goes for staff members and visitors as well.”

“Well, that’s all fine and dandy for the children, but what about those of us who pay to live here and want to go out and enjoy our courtyard without putting second hand smoke in our lungs?,” Helga snuffed. “Helga, you are free to join the children during the smoke-free times. At the same time, the receptacles in the courtyard are located at the back by the gates. There are plenty of benches and walk ways throughout the courtyard which are far enough away from the smoking area that it should not be an issue.” Helga just huffed and crossed her arms.

“What about all the replanting that has to be done?,” Hazel asked. “We know how much work that was for the gardening group, and we do appreciate how lovely everything looks. Yes, we have to get this job underway as the peat moss is a fire hazard. I would encourage everyone to lend a hand to the garden group, should they decide to oversee this undertaking, or, the gardening group can let me know if they’d prefer me to hire a landscaper to take care of this.” “That shouldn’t be necessary…the landscaper that is,” Hazel said quickly. She enjoyed her planting, even if this job was extra work. The rest of the garden group ladies nodded in agreement.

“We’re hoping that with these minor changes, everyone can enjoy the grounds in their own way while we look after ourselves, and be considerate of our neighbours.” With that, the site manager ended the meeting. For the most part, everyone seemed amenable to the changes. Helga was still a little cross that she hadn’t won her battle to get the entire area smoke free, but Hazel understood that if that happened, chances are the smokers would just sneak cigarettes into their suites…and that was a bigger issue and more of a fire hazard.

These changes are a good thing. Choice is important, even if we don’t always agree with the ones made.

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What do you think of this week’s issue? Do you think the right calls were made? How might you have dealt with the issue differently.

Please feel free to share your thoughts below.

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