RHA Smoking Ban Goes Into Effect

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Smokers know if they want to light up while at nearly every bar or restaurant in town, they have to step outside. Starting Saturday, those who live at Rockford Housing Authority properties will have to do the same, though some renters think this new rule goes a little too far.

If Cynthia Jones wants to smoke a cigarette, she has to leave her apartment at Brewington Oaks and head outside in the heat, something she isn't happy about.

"I feel like my privacy is being invaded, that’s like telling me what time to wash my dishes, are you serious?” says Cynthia Jones.

Starting on Saturday, Jones and every other renter with the Rockford Housing Authority are no longer allowed to smoke cigarettes inside their units. Ron Clewer, director of the RHA, says the rule change is to help prevent kids and non-smokers from getting sick from second hand smoke. Plus, it will save the RHA thousands of dollars a year because it takes about $6,600 to get an apartment ready for a new tenant, and even more money to get rid of the smoke smell in the walls and carpet. Jones and some of her neighbors say this isn't fair because they signed a lease that allowed them to smoke, while others aren't too worried about the change.

"I don’t smoke that often inside my apartment, I come outside anyway,” says Tim Wilkison.

A few renters argue, coming outside isn't feasible for everyone.

“You got people in wheelchairs that smoke, what are we supposed to do when it cold outside, what are we supposed to do in the winter?” asks Samuel Harris. “You can’t stop overnight, it’s a disease, it’s a habit."

It’s a habit that some say they'll kick because of this new rule.

“My health is important to me, I’m 61, so my health is important and I’m going to quit smoking,” Richard Marthel.

The RHA says renters caught smoking inside their apartments will get a warning the first time. They can then get up to two tickets before being evicted.

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