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Even smokers want smoke-free housing

by: L.E. BASKOW, Claudene Stewart, with the Housing Authority of Portland’s maintenance department, scrubs the walls of an apartment unit formerly occupied by a heavy smoker. Letter writers weigh in on the Housing Authority’s new ban on smoking in its apartments.

Peter Korn's story started negatively about the Housing Authority of Portland's new no-smoking policy, but then went on to make the case for why it is such a smart idea (Smokin' them out, March 12).

Landlords all over the state, including Guardian Management, are going smoke-free. They are well aware that having no-smoking policies saves a bundle of money in cleaning and maintenance costs.

The market is there as well: According to a recent survey, 70 percent of Oregon renters said they wanted a smokefree environment, including four in 10 smokers. No more than about one in 10 Oregon renters, of any income level, say that smoking occurs on a daily basis in their home; clearly most people have made the decision for their own household.

To turn Bobby Weinstock's argument on its head, if you can't afford to buy a condo or your own house, why should you have to be exposed to the toxic hazards of secondhand smoke where you live?

HAP is a local leader in adopting its no-smoking rules, and it is joining a growing trend throughout the U.S. Smoking is a terrible addiction - usually begun in adolescence - and quitting is difficult. At any one time, three-fourths of smokers say they want to quit. Here is another good reason for them to do so.

My statistics are from 'Smoking Practices, Policies and Preferences in OR Rental Housing' and 'Oregon Tobacco Facts' both found at www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/tobacco.

Diane Laughter

Oregon Smokefree Housing Project

Northwest Portland

No-smoking rules go too far

Sometimes when one has a health problem or doesn't have a job, the anxiety from just sitting in your apartment can drive you up a wall. If you smoke, that is all you have.

No-smoking rules for one's own apartment are going too far. Why didn't they start with high-end apartments in the Pearl?

Roger Garland

Northwest Portland

Protect the assets of the taxpayer

What about the taxpayer? Subsidized housing is supported by tax dollars. As taxpayers, we have invested in projects that help those who are socio-economically challenged. It is in our best interest to protect the assets of the taxpayer and ensure the most safe and healthy environments for those who have no option to live elsewhere (Smokin' them out, March 12).

What about children with asthma who live in these units or elderly residents who already have serious respiratory ailments? Since many of these residents receive state-funded medical benefits, the taxpayer will often then help pay the bill for the additional doctor visits and any resulting hospitalizations that need to address illness triggered by secondhand smoke.

If you own your own home, and it does not share space or vents with others, then go ahead and depreciate its value with the residue and saturating, poisonous toxins created by smoking cigarettes. However, if you live in a building owned by someone else, jointly owned by others or purchased with taxpayers' dollars, then take it outside and far enough away so that others are not affected and the costs of upkeep are kept as low as possible. A smoker does not have the right to damage property that he or she does not own or to make neighbors sick.

Brooke Larson

Astoria

Keep government out of our lives

I am astonished that people think this is a good thing (Smokin' them out, March 12). How much government do you want in your life? I wonder how much longer we'll be able to buy liquor, buy a motorcycle, snow ski, use a personal watercraft, buy a chainsaw, get a bacon cheeseburger and a beer, or many of the other things in life that involve 'risk.'

I'll take my personal freedom and liberty intact, please.

Tom Larsen

Vancouver, Wash.

Smoking households affect non-smokers

Why do you, as a smoker, have the 'right' to pollute the air for non-smokers? To aggravate our asthma, give us lung cancer, exacerbate our other health problems? My cousin was born into a smoking household. He had repeated ear infections and serious asthma as a child. Now, he's a 20-something smoker raising a child who likely will become a smoker. His family has had a host of health problems and early deaths due to smoking. Too bad his parents thought it was no big deal to smoke.

I lived in a non-smoking building in Portland where smoking in apartments was ignored. My downstairs neighbor smoked like a chimney, and everything in my apartment reeked of smoke, including my kitchen. The secondhand smoke made me wheeze and hack. Too bad my health (or the smoker's health) didn't count as much as the temporary buzz from another cigarette.

Smoking is dangerous. It kills people. It stinks. You don't have the right to do something that might kill me, just as I don't have the right to shoot my gun into the air or drive drunk just because I enjoy it or have a sense of supreme entitlement.

Erinn Birmingham

Southwest Portland

Don't kill our constitution

When we look back in 25 years, it will be the anti-smoking advocates that we will have to blame for letting the government into our homes (Smokin' them out, March 12). I find it absolutely amazing that American citizens would ever support government intrusion into the homes of their neighbors.

As someone who jumped for joy when restaurants and bars went smoke-free, I have an opposite reaction to this. Somewhere we have to draw the line and let people do what they want to do with their lives. Now that I can enjoy a night out at a bar without smoke getting into all of my clothes, I feel that we are better off. But legislating what happens with people's privacy? Really? Doesn't anyone see the very dangerous precedent being set here? Anyone ever read '1984'? If owners wish to have a smoke-free environment in their properties, then that is their business, and if smokers don't like it they can find someplace else to live. But government housing? What next?

Don't kill our constitution because you don't like the thought of smoking. Personally, I hate the smell and am quite happy that the smoking ban took effect in restaurants. I wouldn't go so far, though, as to touch the rights of people and what they do in the privacy of their own home. There is far more that we stand to lose, as a democracy, by pushing this agenda than we will ever gain.

Nancy Cagle

Southeast Portland

Continued police presence needed

I live downtown, and we're constantly told that Portland is a safe place, to be respectful of others and share the public space. But underneath the thin surface, apparently there's a lot of seedy business going on (Downtown crackdown, March 19).

I hope that the relocation of the bus mall to Fifth and Sixth avenues improves the situation, but it takes more than lighting and repaved sidewalks; a continued police presence here is needed to deter this activity on our streets.

Michael Caputo

Southwest Portland

McCoy just what we expected

Thanks to Jason Vondersmith for the update on all of the Division I players (Real McCoy earns plaudits, March 12). With all due respect, though, you made a somewhat inaccurate statement: Anybody who knows Paul McCoy knows that his performance this year was not a surprise. All of us over here at Grant High School and many others around the state expected this type of play from McCoy.

Kevin Alvord

Grant High School teacher

Vancouver, Wash.

Fancy menus won't make food sustainable

Anne Marie DiStefano's article on sustainable food highlighted several issues with eating green (Eatery claims hard to verify, March 12).

I just wanted to point out that there are some other ways to verify the claims of the restaurant. Restaurants may be certified by the Green Restaurant Association - a certification based upon standards and inspections of the restaurant's 'greenness.' The sustainability of seafood can also be measured through the likes of Blue Ocean Institute, Salmon Nation and KidSafe Seafood, along with the Marine Stewardship Council and Montery Bay Aquarium that the article mentioned.

How did I learn this? By eating at the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the United States at Bamboo Sushi, located in Southeast Portland. This very newspaper has highlighted their work a few times in the past as well (Say bye-bye to bluefin, Nov. 13, 2008).

If people care about how their food gets on their plate, they shouldn't just look for fancy words on a menu, but question and encourage their favorite restaurants to make changes.

Scott Breon

Northeast Portland

Don't forget the Winter Hawks

All the latest stories published about the new baseball and soccer stadium (Soccer, city vote provoke debate, March 19) ignore the fact that for over 30 years the Portland Winter Hawks have occupied the Memorial Coliseum. The hockey team is totally ignored, along with its many fans and loyal supporters. Note that on Buckaroo Night two weeks ago, some 8,000 to 10,000 fans filled the coliseum and rocked the rafters during the Hawks hockey game (Another Buckaroo roundup, March 12). These are the people who support this franchise. They are also people living in the Portland metro area who read and buy the local papers.

How about some support to keep the site that is leased for use by the Winter Hawks for at least five more years?

James Mann

Hillsboro

Distracted trucker won't see crossing

I recently saw a gasoline truck with a trailer going faster than it should on Southwest Salmon Street past Lincoln High School heading toward the Multnomah Athletic Club. Kids were on the sidewalk on both sides of the street and occasionally crossing the street in their usual self-absorbed manner. The truck driver was steering one-handed while talking on his cell phone (Driven to distraction, March 19).

Hazardous materials vehicles are not supposed to be routed on narrow residential streets next to our high schools. Appeals have been made over the past several months to both state and local government officials, but the tankers continue to roar by. Someday a disaster will occur.

F. Leo Little

Southwest Portland