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Dec 1, 2012 11:25 PM by Tony Spehar - tspehar@koaa.com

Seniors battling indoor smoking in housing authority apartments

It's not just the smell of smoke that bothers 79-year-old Rose Reed; it's the effect it has on her health and the health of others living in buildings for low-income seniors operated by the Colorado Springs Housing Authority.

Reed and her daughter Elizabeth waved signs and banners in front of city hall on Saturday afternoon demanding that the city take action about the issue.

"We've got people upstairs that have really bad conditions, I've got bleeding ulcers and other respiratory problems," Reed described. "Every six or eight months I end up going to the internologist."

Smoking inside is allowed in all nine senior apartment complexes run by the housing authority. Reed lives at the Senior Heritage Plaza on Hancock Avenue. 15 of the 32 people living in the complex smoke and the smokers are interspersed throughout the building where around 50-percent of the air is shared between apartments. Reed doesn't have a problem with the smokers, but wishes they had their own area to smoke in.

"It's good to be right outside here, even if we do have cars and exhaust," Reed explained. "It's still better than what I have around my residence."

With the help of her daughter Elizabeth, Reed has been working for around two-years to try and get the housing authority to create smoking and non-smoking wings in their buildings, saying that the health problems associated with the secondhand smoke are becoming difficult to deal with.

"One has a bleeding nose, a repeatedly bleeding nose and takes medicine to stop that and it's from the cigarette smoke," described Elizabeth Reed. "Another one had to have a steroid shot to stop a dry, hacking, persistent cough."

The Reed's even took their case to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington. HUD requested that the Housing Authority of Colorado Springs offer moving incentives to smokers to help create smoking and non-smoking areas in buildings. In Rose Reed's building just two smokers would have to be moved to another part of the building to have it separated, but the housing authority has yet to take any action.

"To just move two people to the other side of the building to prevent my mom's slow painful death?" Elizabeth Reed said questioning why nothing has changed. "It hurts, you know, to suffocate in your home."

Officials with the Housing Authority of Colorado Springs could not be reached for comment about the issue.

 

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