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Facing eviction, 89-year-old smoker plans to move

  • Associated Press
  • April 21, 2014 - 10:35 AM

MILFORD, Ohio — An 89-year-old woman is preparing to move out of her home of the last 10 years because it has gone smoke-free and she won't give up cigarettes.

Beulah "Billie" Toombs faces eviction after her apartment building's management deemed her noncompliant with its new smoke-free policy, The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/PmRgCA ) reported. A smoker for about seven decades, she doesn't think she should have to quit to stay in her home.

"This is my home, and I think you do can do whatever you want to in your home," she said.

The management of the low-income senior apartments where she lives announced the smoke-free policy more than a year ago. Residents were allowed one year of smoking with some conditions.

When the policy kicked in this year, neighbors reported Toombs' smoking. A regular apartment inspection this month found cigarette butts and ashtrays in her unit.

A message was left Monday for management of the building, AHEPA 127 apartments. The Enquirer reported that a manager earlier declined to discuss the situation.

Toombs' daughter Mary Ann Burgoyne said warning letters confused her mother.

"My mom is getting older, and this is causing her so much stress," said Burgoyne, who said she went to the building manager in hopes of finding a compromise.

"We just want my mother to be left alone," Burgoyne said.

The senior apartments are subsidized by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program. A HUD spokesman said there is a strong housing toward non-smoking apartment buildings.

"Building owners do not like smoking," said HUD spokesman Brian Sullivan. "There is the stink, the risk of fire, and you can never get that smell out."

Toombs has been looking for a new place and thinks she has one lined up, The Enquirer reported. Soon, she will pack up her belongings, including her ashtrays.

A neighbor, Shirley Day, said she doesn't like the smell of smoking.

"I wish she would quit," Day said of Toombs. "I like her, but I love the policy."

© 2014 Star Tribune