Monday, 25 October 2010


Update November 8/10 - You can read follow up to this story at the following link:

An important message from the international blogosphere:

If you read the story at:

you will learn of the sad story of 88 year old Philipina Schergevitch who is now facing eviction from her home of ten years because of a Senior Housing Association's new no-smoking policy.

Richard White, author of "Smokescreens: The Truth About Tobacco," is coordinating an online letter/petition drive to show support for Ms. Schergevitch. I will reproduce his email below. Please copy it to a new email, sign it with your name (address and any affiliation/position qualifications would help as well but are voluntary), and email it back to him at

He will gather and organize the names and send the result in hardcopy from the UK to the housing association to show that the case has attracted widespread international publicity and attention. While most of our fight is directed at the organizations and forces behind "smoker denormalization," it's important to remember individuals as well. And for this woman, at age 88, to have her life disrupted in this fashion is criminal.

Thank you.

Michael J. McFadden
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
Dear Ms Morgan,

We the undersigned appeal to your conscience and common sense to reconsider the eviction of Philipina Schergevitch for her smoking habit.

Philipina is a long-standing tenant of a decade, during which time the Francis Klein Centre has become her home and she has provided the Bishop O'Byrne Housing for Seniors Association a lot of money to live there. At 88 years of age, the stress alone could cause the demise of this lady who has done nothing wrong to deserve such treatment. While the association states smoking is permitted in designated areas outside, it must be recognised that subjugating an elderly woman to the harsh weather conditions Calgary experiences is unacceptable and her human rights must be considered. The argument for the ban is of health, but that is clearly not the case because no harm is posed to other tenants by her smoking and a direct, large and immediate health threat is posed to Philipina through the extreme weather conditions of winter. It is startling to note that the Bishop O’Byrne Housing for Seniors Association deems it acceptable to put tenants at risk of pneumonia, flu, unprecedented stress and the possibility of attack from passers-by under the pretence of “health” and care for other, non-smoking tenants. The Calgary Herald reported in January 2009 the case of Juliette Bombardier, who died outside the Kamloops, B. C. seniors care home the day after Christmas as she went out for a cigarette and got locked out. This was a preventable death and yet the Bishop O’Bryne Housing for Seniors Association is fully prepared to run the risk of its tenants suffering a similar fate.

It must be remembered that tobacco smoking is still legal and so is smoking in one’s home. Canadian law still dictates that smoking is permitted in places of residence, which includes rented properties. Thus, the onus is on the owners of such buildings and therefore the Association is under no legal obligation to ban smoking in its buildings; it is being done through choice. There has been no regard for the safety and wellbeing of its tenants, not least that of an 88 year old woman who has resided there for a decade. Such a ruling is nothing short of vindictive and hateful and this innocent woman, not to mention her family, are being subjected to extreme levels of stress and worry because of the ideology of others. No concern or regard has been shown to Philipina or her relatives despite the fact that these apartments are specifically subsidized for low-income seniors; something the owners are well aware of being in short-supply in Calgary. This means that they are willingly and carelessly evicting a loyal paying tenant with no regard to whether she will be able to find new accommodation. There is no need for Philipina, or any smoker, to be treated like a social outcast just because some do not agree with their legal lifestyle choice. She has not broken any law – national or provincial – and is being punished anyway.

Once again, we urge you to reconsider your decision and show equal fairness and kindness to all tenants and not to display acts of ruthlessness, carelessness or pass vindictive rulings not governed by law; such attitudes should be employed at all times anyway – especially considering the Association exists to provide people like Philipina their necessary housing – but most importantly towards the elderly. It is disconcerting that such a reminder of human decency and good-spirit needs to be stated, but you hold all the power to remove the potentially lethal stress and worry from Philipina and her family, and on behalf of all concerned humans worldwide, we urge you to do so.

Yours faithfully,

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