WILMINGTON -- It was the work of a local lawmaker inspired by her personal experience. Monday a new law takes effect prohibiting smoking inside nursing homes and assisted living centers. New Hanover County Rep. Carolyn Justice helped introduce this bill. Up until Monday smoking was allowed inside elder-care facilities. Starting Monday residents have to go outside to smoke. Rep. Justice discovered all elder-care facilities in North Carolina allowed smoking and that there was no law on the books to stop people from lighting up. Justice said, "A member of my family was looking at assisted living facilities, thinking about making a move in the future. And so I took her, we visited several places, and she was concerned because one of the rooms she really liked and could afford had a smoker next door, you could smell it." Concerned about the health of residents and the possible fire danger, she went to work to change the law. Justice said, "I know that those people who do smoke and can't stop, that this does pose a problem for them. But they're a small number compared to the thousands and thousands who don't smoke who need to be able to be in these facilities." Reactions to the new law are mixed. At the Spring Arbor assisted living center in Wilmington administrators say the biggest difference is the notice on the door. Smokers now have to go to the front porch to light up. Loretta Thomas with Spring Arbor said, "I do have three residents who smoke. But I don't think it will be a big impact on them. We have a dedicated smoking area for those residents." But Rep. Justice says she did hear opposition from other facilities. "They said, 'What do we do with these seniors that move here, and who've smoked all their life, and you're asking them to make a major life change in a addition to making a major life change.'" Rep. Justice says some assisted living administrators told her smoking helps calm down mentally ill patients. She says she wants to look into that issue further during the next session to see if the law should be modified to possibly allow those patients to smoke.
- Video Central
- About WWAY