By Matt Hunter Updated Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 07:25 PM CDT
Time Warner Cable News
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. , After picking up his first cigarette at age 12, Joe Milici has been a smoker for the past 45 years.
“I know I have to quit smoking,” the 57-year-old said Tuesday. “I don’t know about anybody else.”
The Chicago native and Army veteran now calls the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority’s (SSHA) Stonequist Apartments home. When it comes time for a smoke, he says he always tries to respect his neighbors.
“I think it’s common sense; I don’t want to light up around someone who doesn’t smoke,” Milici said.
Starting this Sunday, Milici and the other smokers who live at the federally funded agency’s three Spa City properties won’t have much choice, with a new smoke-free policy set to take effect.
“The debate is over as to whether there are health effects caused by secondhand smoke,” said Paul Feldman, who took over as SSHA’s executive director a year ago. “It just made sense for us to move forward with this policy.”
In addition to covering the authority’s 339 housing units, it also includes smoke-free boundaries near exterior entrances and windows as well as playgrounds.
“One out of three people who live in residential housing are already exposed to secondhand smoke,” Glens Falls Hospital Community Partnerships Coordinator Brandi Bishop said.
As the facilitator of the hospital’s smoke-free initiative, Bishop is helping the authority implement the rule change.
“It’s like any other policy: There’s always going to be somebody who doesn’t want to follow it,” said Bishop, who’s helped other local housing authorities and organizations institute their own smoke-free policies.
“I think it’s a big violation of a smoker’s rights,” said Amanda Tanzer, who’s lived at the authority’s Jefferson Terrace apartments for three years. “As a non-smoker, I think that it’s just ludicrous.”
While some residents like Tanzer are resistant to the rule, which could punish violators with eviction, others believe the time is right.
“I’m glad it’s going to go through, because it’s very bad for your health,” said Denise Morehouse, a non-smoker and Jefferson Terrace resident for the past eight years.
Among those welcoming the change is Milici himself. Now that a nine-floor walk down the stairs will stand between him and a cigarette, he’s hoping that will be enough to help him finally give up the habit for good.
“Indirectly, it still helps me,” Milici said. “It helps me to quit and I need to quit anyway, so there you go.”