Residents' smoke fight taken to PM

RESIDENTS of a sheltered homes complex who complained to Prime Minister Tony Blair about the new smoking ban laws today said they had been greatly encouraged by public reaction.

RESIDENTS of a sheltered homes complex who complained to Prime Minister Tony Blair about the new smoking ban laws today said they had been greatly encouraged by public reaction.

Occupants of Yetton Ward House in Felixstowe have received a reply from Mr Blair telling them he has passed on their concerns to the Department of Health to investigate.

Residents of the 31 flats in Cricket Hill Road fear the new smoking ban will ruin their community spirit and put an end to social events because not being allowed to smoke in communal areas will mean people staying in their rooms. Since The Evening Star highlighted the pensioners' plight, their campaign has generated debate all over the country with lots of support, but some people taking quite the opposite view.

Campaign organiser at Yetton Ward, Mima McKenna, said: “The support we have had from the public has been amazing and we really feel our campaign has been collecting momentum.

“Lots of people have told us how ridiculous they think the situation is.

“People say the whole building is our home and we should be able to smoke where we want, and they think it is horrible that elderly people will have to go back to their rooms every time they want a cigarette. Many residents find it difficult to walk anyway.”

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Mrs Mckenna said the residents were still not holding out much hope of winning their campaign.

“We know it will be difficult to persuade the Department of Health, but there must be thousands of people like us up and down the country who will be affected in this way,” she said.

Complex owner Flagship Housing said the flats were classified as a domestic dwelling and would be exempt from the legislation. However, all communal areas are classed as a work place and the no smoking laws will apply.

Not all residents though are against the smoking ban.

Julie Greig, of James Boden Close, Felixstowe, whose 94-year-old grandmother is a tenant, said: “Like many of the other tenants, including smokers, she suffers with breathing difficulties and is unable to be in a smoky atmosphere.

“For her, like so many other tenants, going into the communal lounge is not an option. Indeed the entrance to the building is often full of cigarette smoke and makes your clothes smell. It is very offensive.”

Will you be affected by the no smoking laws? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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