No-smoking policy kicks in at big East Harlem building

By Laignee Barron
New York Daily News, June 3, 2013

Neighbors say it will clear the air. One woman’s son says policy came too late to save her.

The new no-smoking policy at East Harlem’s Carlos M. Rios Senior Residence won’t stop Juan Olivares’ 60-year long habit.

A new anti-smoking policy in an East Harlem apartment complex has an unforeseen positive side effect: it’ll end at least one longstanding battle between neighbors.

The Carlos M. Rios Senior Residence on E. 105th St. became the neighborhood’s biggest smoke-free building over the weekend – and the new rule is a breath of fresh air say non-smokers inside the 102-unit complex.
Especially Aurea Martinez.

“The apartment downstairs smells like smoke,” said Martinez, hoping the no-smoking policy will finally douse the cigarettes of her downstairs neighbor, Juan Olivares.

“He smokes like a chimney and the smoke just goes out from his window and into mine,” she said. “When I sit in the living room I don’t feel good. I have asthma and the second-hand smoke makes it worse.”
Olivares, 95, suggested that he’s too old to kick the habit, but said he had no objections to the new policy, which will allow him to continue smoking outside.

Olivares’ lack of full enthusiasm for the initiative puts him in the minority. A survey of the residents showed that 92% supported the no-smoking policy, according to Maria Pico of the Manhattan Smoke-Free Partnership.

If the initiative is successful, the management team has said it will extend it to more buildings in the area.

“We definitely don’t want smoking in the building,” said Mike Foseca, a two year building resident. “We have a few people who do smoke and they do it inside, in the hallways, without caring about other people. It’s hard to make it stop.”

The policy went into effect too late for at least one resident.

“My mother died of lung cancer earlier this year,” Jose Rodriguez, a contractor and East Harlem resident, said as he moved out his mother’s belongings from the building.

“If she had lived in a non-smoking environment maybe she would have stopped smoking and wouldn’t have gotten cancer.”

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