Know Anybody in Lynchburg, Virginia?

I got the following email last night. So did Michael McFadden.

Frank and Michael –

I feel like you are the only people in the world who don’t bash me because I smoke.

So I’m writing this email to both of you.

This has been a most horrible day, smoking-wise.

Because I’m disabled, I have an aide/companion who comes in for two hours a day four times a week. She does light cleaning, takes me on errands and is just generally really wonderful company. I’ve been getting her services for a year.

Recently she’s been diagnosed with high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis. Both run in her family. She’s 54 years old, about 100 pounds overweight, and her diet is junk-food-heavy. (Her breakfast consists of potato chips and a candy bar).

So today she (I’ll call her Jane) came in wearing a mask. Why? Because yesterday her doctor asked her if she smoked. No, she doesn’t smoke. So her doctor asked if she’s around smoke a lot. Jane said, well, one of her clients smokes. Jane told me the doctor got really stern and said that my cigarette smoke is what’s causing her rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups AND her high blood pressure, and that she MUST wear a mask every time she enters my apartment.

I was like, Jane, that is NOT true! She of course didn’t believe me, because Doctor Knows All. And Jane told me she talked to her aunt later, and Aunty (a fervant anti-smoker who won’t visit anyone who smokes) said, yup, it’s the cigarette smoke that’s causing all your health problems.

Jane is one of the sweetest people in the world, but has a limited education and believes everything “authority figures” tell her. I just dropped the subject, and she wore her mask while she was here.

Okay – then the building manager called me in – about my smoking. In my apartment. Which we’re allowed to do.

A little bit of background –

Last weekend, a bunch of residents were sitting right by my door, in the hallway, making a big racket. They had dragged a bunch of chairs together and were having their own party. Now, this apartment building, which is for low-income seniors, has on the first floor a large, beautiful living room with many chairs and couches, two large back porches, one screened in, with lounge chairs, a spacious community room with a full kitchen, chairs, tables and a large-screen television, and there are comfortable, well-appointed common rooms on each of the other two floors. Apartment rules are that people are not to have gatherings in the hallways but are supposed to use the above-mentioned rooms. Which sounds perfectly sensible to me.

But for some reason, a particular group of people often choose to gather in the hallway by my door. For hours and hours and hours. And the hallways echo.

So I was trying to read, and the noise (whooping, hollering, cussing, etc.) was driving me nuts. So I went out to them and VERY POLITELY said, “Excuse me, but could you please keep it down? The halls echo, and I can hear you as though you’re sitting in my apartment. Thank you so very much.”

They glared at me, and as I walked away, one woman said, “THE NERVE OF HER!”

So today, the building manager calls me in. She warned me that there was a petition being made by a group of people on my wing to get me out of my apartment, because they hate my smoking. I happen to know that one of the people is the woman who said, “THE NERVE OF HER!”

Then the building manager told me that once again my smoking is stinking up the hall. Which IT IS NOT. The damn halls smell like damn PERFUME from the industrial strength air freshener thingies all over the walls. If my smoking was stinking up the hall, my aide would let me know as soon as she walked in the door.

I also found out that this group of people literally hates me because I smoke, and it doesn’t help that I’m the only Jewish resident.

I’ve never said anything to them but a pleasant “Good morning,” or “Good night.” I’ve never been rude to them. All I did was ask them to “Please keep it down – thank you.”

I don’t know if it’s a racial thing that’s motivating them or what, but I am SO upset tonight that I’m shaking. I smoke. SO WHAT? Does that deserve a hate mob in the place that I live?

Of course both MJM and I replied.

I said people needed to see this, and asked if I could publish the email,  and received permission.

My instant reaction to the story was profound anger at the medical profession. It’s another example of vile, unethical doctors setting people against each other, and using lies to do so.

This disabled  (old?) lady in Virginia needs help and support. If I lived near her, I’d want to go and see her. I think maybe the best thing I can do, on this side of the Atlantic, is to publicise her predicament as best I can. If anyone reading this feels there’s some way that they can help, I’ll ask if email addresses can be exchanged. Maybe also someone might have some Jewish connections they could call on.

I guess the main thought I had was that I wished there was the smokers’ army I was talking about (again) a few days ago. In the town nearest where she lives, there are probably 10,000 smokers or more. And I bet that some of them would be more than happy to help, to go visit her, talk to her building manager, and see that doctor. But how do you reach them?

Well, maybe that’s where a blog like mine might be helpful. I don’t know anyone in Lynchburg (although oddly enough, I used to have an English friend who lived there), but maybe somebody knows someone who knows someone who lives in Lynchburg. It needn’t be a smoker. It could be someone in Lynchburg who knows one or two smokers. And once you’ve got to one or two smokers, you’d probably find a lot more.

Hence my question in the banner.

Maybe another route would be through smoke shops. Likelihood is that people selling tobacco are also smoking it.

Any suggestions?

About Frank Davis

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29 Responses to Know Anybody in Lynchburg, Virginia?

  1. Smoking Lamp says:

    This is a poignant example of the mounting persecution of smokers. First you have a doctor that inaccurately assigns blame for a health condition on second hand smoke. Next there is overt discrimination and persecution of a smoker in their residence. Basically a witch hunt lodged against a smoker that seeks to deny customary leasehold rights. Banning smoking in apartments and condominiums are the new antismoking fetish.

    The best way to support the victim of this harassment (and others like her) is to actively counter moves toward new smoking bans. I think Frank is right to seek ways to drum up support for the victim and think smoke shops might be a good first step (there may also be a few smoking bars in Lynchburg too (since Virginia allows separately ventilated smoking rooms).

    • John Watson says:

      I would agree that is a good start Smoking Lamp, as for an army, well Frank, why not a smokers ‘union’ Unions are legal in almost every country. A union could provide the support that this lady needs, I am sure that a significant number of smokers would contribute to their own welfare, by helping victims like this lady they would be helping themselves.

      There must be moneyed people who smoke who may wish provide a little seed money to help set up, There must be some people who helped run unions who smoke, who would like to help run it, smokers from the Investment sector who have the knowledge to help raise capital.

      If such a Union existed it could buy properties to lease to smokers to the point of self sufficiency. It could also provide funding for legal purposes (at least until smokers become outlaws deprived of any recourse to the judicial system or society as a whole).

      While I understand Walt C’s viewpoint on a smoker’s society independent of mainstream society I would suggest that this lady’s predicament is only one of thousands happening now and not just in the United States, that we are all being pushed in that direction just as surely as those States that formed the Confederacy were.

      My Heart goes out to this lady, and from this side of the pond there is little I can do to aid her except trying to convince smokers to help themselves through unity because as Walt reminded me the press won’t help us, the governments won’t help us and neither will the Judiciary or Churches.

  2. waltc says:

    How close is Lynchburg to Alexandria? I have family there tho I don’t know if they’d visit her but won’t even ask unless it’s a easy drive. 2) I’ll call this to Audrey’s attention. She may have some practical or legal ideas. 3) if this lady has to go to court or housing court or countersue to avoid eviction, we could first see if we can help her to find a good free local tenants’ rights lawyer ( some such exist in NYC) or each kick in some money to help her finance her defense. You can’t take The Long View about something like this ; it needs immediate aid.

    In the meantime, as nice as Jane is, it would be unbearable to have someone in your house wearing a mask around you as tho you were a leper. I’d strongly suggest she let Jane go and with a straight face ask her to let you know if her blood pressure and joints return to perfection once she’s no longer “exposed.” When you hire her replacement, state up front that you smoke so you don’t get another phobic.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Lynchburg is about 175 miles west of Alexandria in central Virginia.
      On the issue of second hand smoke and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), there really is no conclusive evidence that second hand smoke influences RA. See the following:

      Second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke and its effect on disease activity in Swedish rheumatoid arthritis patients. Data from BARFOT, a multicenter study of RA.
      Söderlin MK1, Andersson M, Bergman S; BARFOT study group.

      We studied the prevalence and effect on disease activity of ever having had second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke in Swedish rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who had never smoked.
      Between 1992 and 2005, 2,800 patients were included in the BARFOT early-RA study in Sweden. Disease Activity Score 28 joints (DAS28), C-reactive protein (CRP), Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), rheumatoid factor (RF), general health and pain visual analogue scales (VAS), and drug treatment were registered at inclusion and at follow-up at 3, 6, and 12 months and 2 and 5 years. EULAR response criteria were applied at the same follow-up points. In 2010, a self-completion postal questionnaire was sent to 2,102 patients in the BARFOT study enquiring about lifestyle habits such as whether they had ever been exposed to tobacco smoke as a result of someone else smoking.
      A total of 963/1,421 patients (68%) had had second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke. At 3, 6, and 12 months, at 2 years, and at 5 years of follow-up, there were no differences in EULAR response between patients who had never smoked and who had been exposed or had not been exposed second-hand to tobacco smoke (p=0.91, p=0.88, p=0.84, p=0.61 and p=0.85, respectively).
      We did not find any association between second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke and disease activity in RA.

      Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2013 Jan-Feb;31(1):122-4. Epub 2012 Oct 24.

      • waltc says:

        What’s crazy is that they even LOOKED for a link.

        • Rose says:

          Perhaps they really wanted to do a study on something more important but by putting a reference to secondhand smoke on the grant application they were more likely to get the funding. Linking rheumatiod arthritis to things like Global Warming, or Sugar are likely to have worked just as well at different times.

        • Rose says:

          Development of carbon monoxide releasing molecules for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

          “Carbon monoxide (CO) has been shown, by several renowned laboratories around the world, to have a number of anti-inflammatory properties which turn it into an exceptionally promising compound against chronic inflammatory diseases such as RA”

        • nisakiman says:

          So what that study is showing, Rose, is that contrary to what the doctor has told ‘Jane’, being around smoke will probably be beneficial to her.

          How on earth do they get away with this litany of lies?

  3. Scott Ewing says:

    The link to the OSHA results (which caused ASH to drop their lawsuit)

  4. margo says:

    I’m so glad this lady has felt able to write to you, Frank and MJM. (I speak as someone who more than once has felt immensely comforted by the support of this group.) I hope she can find a new aide who smokes, or who at least is not bothered by smoking, someone to befriend her and help her withstand this dreadful, unnecessary, stressful situation that’s been forced upon her. And I hope she keeps writing, to let us know how this pans out. I wish I was near enough to do more than just send my heartfelt best wishes.

  5. junican says:

    Isn’t there another way to look at the situation? Why worry?
    Let ‘Jane’ wear her mask, What does it matter? She’ll soon get fed up with it. Give her a cheerful smile when she arrives. Take no notice of the mask in the same way that you would take no notice of a pair of spectacles. Let’s club in a couple of quid each and send her an ecig. She can show it to the building manager and say that she is cutting down on smoking. She is being lied about so she can lie as well. If she wanted to push it, she too could wear a mask in the corridors “just in case there is any pollution in the air”, especially if she goes to see the building manager. She could ask for her apartment to soundproofed because of the noise in the corridors. Or she could keep her head down, give her tormentors a cheerful smile and carry on with her life.
    More than anything, I suppose, she needs to know her rights as a tenant. Can she demand that the harassment ceases?

  6. Rose says:

    Briefing on the evidence base and ASH Scotland conclusions regarding the definition of smoking materials in the current draft legislation

    “With secondhand smoke, the main concerns are exposure to levels of carbon monoxide and respirable particulate matter.
    While air nicotine metabolised as cotinine provides a marker for measuring exposure to tobacco smoke, the nicotine is not present in such quantities as to present health concerns

    Now missing and no longer available on the Wayback Machine.

    If anyone wants to read the whole thing you’ll find it lower down the page here.

    Briefing on the evidence base and ASH Scotland conclusions regarding the definition of smoking materials in the current draft legislation

    “This briefing paper was prepared ahead of the stage 2 debate on the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill on 14th June 2005, and was submitted to the Health Minister by ASH Scotland.

    At that debate in the Health Committee, Stewart Maxwell MSP moved an amendment to capture non-tobacco lit and smoked products in the primary legislation. This was supported by the Executive, accepted by the Health Committee and adopted ahead of the stage 3 vote in Parliament.”

  7. jariel says:

    I wrote the original email, and thank you, thank you, thank you all for your replies. I am somewhat of a nervous wreck right now because of all the crap going on with my living situation, so I will keep this brief, but the support I get here means the world to me. It is a very lonely thing being a disabled senior with major depression, PTSD, no family, a below-poverty-level income, whose simple – and effective – comfort, smoking, is being attacked on all sides in some very ugly ways.

    By the way, there is only ONE doctor in Lynchburg who doesn’t bash smoking. I wish she were my physician but she’s been booked to capacity for years.

    Oh, I would LOVE to have some smokers come here to support me…. SO – if you want to visit beautiful Bible Belt Lynchburg (Hallelujah!) you’re more than welcome.

    Love to you all.

  8. jariel says:

    One other thing – I have written to this wonderful blog for support several times before. In the past few years I have lost housing because two landladies decided they didn’t want to rent to a smoker, have been unable to find housing (and was homeless for a few months but luckily was finally able to stay with smoking friends), have had my rabbi go into (fake) coughing fits and leave at the entrance of my building because she knows I smoke in my apartment, have undergone “sniff tests” in my current residence, from the entrance of the building all down the hallway up to my door and inside, have been accused of single-handedly causing a large three-floor residence of stinking of smoke (I am not the only smoker who lives here, I am on the first-floor corner and my windows, next to which I smoke, face only out onto the parking lot), I have been accused of wanting to “kill” other residents here because I smoke, have been told I have back pain, shoulder pain and medication-related side effects because I smoke, have been told more times than I can count that I “stink,” have been told that I’m “not nice” because I’m sitting outside my house of worship, smoking a cigarette, and am at told at least once a day that I should quit my nasty habit, or asked why I want to kill myself and others. When I visit friends, I must go outside by myself if I want a cigarette. No one comes along to keep me company. It’s lonely. Perhaps my perspective – that of a low-income disabled senior who dares to smoke – is a unique one, or perhaps it’s more common than I know. Today I just feel completely fed up, angry, overwhelmed, and incredibly depressed. I would check myself into the local hospital’s depression unit but they don’t allow smoking there.

  9. Emily says:

    Jariel- I would love your email just so we could be “pen pals” if that would help. I am in Boston unfortunately so not very close. Hopefully Frank can forward me your email if you don’t object. Just know that you are not alone!

  10. waltc says:

    Keep us posted, jariel. But don’t wait around for axes, like that petition, to fall. Find out now if there’s,s a local tenants rights group. Or call your city council rep and ask what your rights are under local and state law and, further, ask if they know of any such a group that helps tenants in trouble. Be prepared .

    If they’re complaining of a nonexistent smoke-smell in the halls, buy a can of strong flower-scented Glade and spritz the hall right in front of your door every day. Be what they call “pro-active.”

    If you fire Jane, be sure to tell her you’re doing it out of concern for her –“for her own good”– to avoid even the odds against chance of any legal problems with her later. . And I’d also suggest you copy some of the studies posted above –not for Jane, who you say won’t believe them– but to have in your back pocket. Good luck.

  11. jariel says:

    Hahahaha – waltc – I already do spray strong flower-scented Glade in the hall in front of my door – and down the hall – several times a day. :)
    And – I can’t fire dear Jane – she comes to me through Social Services – and she is in no way litigious. So what if she wears a mask. So she believes everything authority figures tell her. I don’t hold it against her. She’s a sweet person and does her job beautifully.
    More later.

    • Joe L. says:

      jariel – I am very sorry to hear of your current situation. I understand that you don’t want to fire Jane because she is trustworthy and does her job well, but I believe you should strongly consider relieving her of her duties.

      Jane wearing a mask around you will be a constant reminder of this revolting antismoking prejudice, and is something you should not subject yourself to. There is no way you can feel comfortable when you are treated like a biological hazard in your own home. This will not only exacerbate your depression, but it may also be counterproductive to the petition you are dealing with. If your neighbors see Jane wearing a mask in the hallways, they will, without a doubt, use it against you.

      I believe if you are not comfortable with the companion you are assigned, you can request a new one through Social Services, and they must oblige. I believe my mother has done exactly this before. However, her aide/companion is provided by Catholic Charities, but I don’t see a reason why it should be any different for you.

      Ultimately, it’s your decision, but I think you should consider this carefully. Try to stay positive – I wish you the best!

  12. jariel says:

    Oh – they can’t get me evicted for smoking. (Unless smoking becomes banned here, which it’s currently not). I’m an excellent tenant. That is not what I’m upset about. I am upset at the ugliness being stirred up by Antismoking. How a smoker speaking up for his or her rights (such as the right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises) can be viciously attacked and harassed for the fact that he or she smokes, and that being a smoker can be used as a weapon against him or her. My polite request for a group of noisy people to “please keep it down in the hallway” can be all too easily twisted around to me trampling on their rights because I smoke in my apartment.
    By the way – the woman who made and circulated the petition lives way down the hall from me, on the other side of the hall. We share no walls, no ceilings, no vents. We do not even share the same view. Our windows face in opposite directions. There is no physical way my smoke can as she said, “drift in right under her door.” Nor can it enter through her windows.

    • smokingscot says:

      In addition to Frank’s link, took a quick look myself.

      This lot are in your area:

    • beobrigitte says:

      Jariel, it is most despicable that elderly smokers are being viciously attacked; to me this is unforgivable!!
      Perhaps the anti-smokers HATE the FACT that there ARE so many elderly people around – and every day smokers reach the age when they draw their (in most cases well deserved) PENSION. The anti-smokers tell us all that a whiff of smoke will cause ‘premature’ death, although none of them knows what this means.
      Cars, bicycles, microbial infections, trains, medicines and planes sure can cause premature death – we smokers are still alive and kicking.

      Over the last weekend I went to a little family gathering. It is always nice to meet up when living in different countries.
      One relative started to have a go at the misled muslim kids signing up with ISIS. She harped on about what should be done with them for listening to propaganda. I did point out that I had noticed this relative using anti-smoking propaganda, conveying the same enthusiasm as these kids would use.
      There was a heated discussion which abruptly ended when I asked on which side of my chest I am to sew on the yellow sticker “smoker”.
      This relative is a lovely person but only educated to basic level and questioning (lobbied) authority laws just isn’t done at this level.

      I do hope I did manage to encourage questions.

      For general amusement: IT finally happened – I encountered the first anti-smoking nut!!! Had to be female… (*sigh*)
      I was sat on my bench, lighting my cigarette. Out came this scrawny looking female, telling me that I couldn’t smoke there. I saw that there was an open door, so I did move to the ASHTRAY BIN. That wasn’t good enough. She still carried on. So I thought it might be a good idea to get some distance between her and me in order to make me a little more heard to others. As expected, she shouted then: “you have to put your cigarette out because smoking is allowed here” and I shouted back: “Isn’t the ceiling high enough?”
      She disappeared again inside.
      There sure were a lot of people walking by, grinning.

  13. kin_free says:

    Here is more good information/links/evidence about arthritis (and other stuff too) from Nightlight;

    (you may have to copy/paste this directly into your address bar if the link doesn’t work)
    Worth keeping for future reference and ammunition Jariel.

  14. Pingback: If You Smoke, Your Eyes Will Fall Out | Frank Davis

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