Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Residents of St. Petersburg nursing home protest smoking rules

ST. PETERSBURG — As protests go, this was small and rather smoky.

About 20 residents of a St. Petersburg nursing home lit up in the courtyard Tuesday to protest a new smoking policy that takes away their cigarettes and cuts back on smoking hours.

The Shore Acres Rehabilitation and Health Center changed its policy Tuesday, requiring smokers to turn over their packs and lighters.

Staff members will then accompany residents on nine scheduled 20-minute smoke breaks, with a two-cigarette limit per break.

Nursing home officials said the move was necessary for safety, but some residents say they are being treated like children.

"My mother told me not to smoke," said Tom Ahlers, a 63-year-old resident. "She stole my cigarettes since I was 18 years old. Since then, I've made my own decisions."

Suresh Pai, nursing home administrator, said the policy was changed after several recent problems, including ashes burning residents' legs.

"If nobody's there to watch them, that creates a safety hazard," he said. "They could drop ashes on themselves. They could burn themselves. They could light themselves on fire."

Pai also expressed concern about liability.

Ultimately, he said, the decision also was influenced by a letter from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, detailing how a resident of another nursing home died when her cigarette set her clothing afire.

Residents who break these rules could be asked to leave the facility, he said.

Edward Masters, a 53-year-old resident, acknowledged smoking can cause problems but said it also provides personal pleasures.

"We've only got a few years left," he said. "It's our choice. It's been our choice for 30-some years now."

Meredith Rutland can be contacted at or (727) 893-8804.

Residents of St. Petersburg nursing home protest smoking rules 01/15/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 10:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who's behind the mysterious butt graffiti all over St. Petersburg?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first butts, perhaps, appeared in April on some steps behind the Sundial shopping plaza.

    A photo of the butt graffiti that has been cropping up around St. Petersburg in the past several months. [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | STAFF]
  2. During the most expensive mayoral election ever, St. Petersburg City Council wants to limit PAC money


    ST. PETERSBURG — In front of a large group of red-shirted campaign finance reform supporters, the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday started the ball rolling on an ordinance that would limit individual campaign contributions to $5,000 from political action committees.

    A large crowd gathered Thursday to support passage of a controversial measure to limit campaign spending in city elections
  3. Minority business accelerator launch by Tampa chamber to aid black, Hispanic businesses


    A "minority business accelerator" program was launched Thursday by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce geared toward helping black and Hispanic business owners identify and overcome barriers to grow their companies. The accelerator, known as MBA, will provide participants with business tools to cultivate opportunities …

    Bemetra Simmons is a senior private banker at Wells Fargo, The Private Bank. She is also chair of the new minority business accelerator program for the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. [Photo, LinkedIn]
  4. Peter Budaj loves 'vibe' with Lightning


    Two years ago, nobody was willing to give Peter Budaj a shot, the veteran goalie wondering if he'd ever play in the NHL again.

    Peter Budaj signed a two-year extension with the Lightning, worth $1.025 million per year.
  5. A test the Rays haven't passed

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — I have no idea what to think about the Rays. Not a clue.

    Tampa Bay Rays players celebrate their 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday, June 21, 2017 in St. Petersburg.