Andy Nowicki, a 90-year-old World War II veteran, is in the process of being evicted from his home in Newington, Connecticut for smoking.
According to CBS Connecticut, the veteran has been smoking for 70 years. He picked up the habit while fighting in World War II during an era when the Army handed out free cigarettes. The veteran has two Purple Hearts — his first received during the bloody invasion of Anzio, Italy.
Andy Nowicki and his wife, who suffers from Alzheimers disease, have lived in the apartment for 20 years. He himself is alert. However, his age combined with his war wounds means that he has trouble walking.
According to an extended report in the Hartford Courant, about 18 months ago the housing authority passed a rule requiring all tenants to smoke at least 10 feet away from the building.
Andy Nowicki can’t quit the habit, or it would have happened a long time before 70 years had passed. “Are you kidding?” he told the Courant. “I got the best doctor in the world. He gave me gum. He gave me the patch.”
But it didn’t work.
Nor can Andy Nowicki walk 10 feet away from the building every time he smokes a cigarette. So he has been smoking in the breezeway.
Apparently, that isn’t good enough, since the couple will have to appear in Hartford Housing Court on September 3 for an eviction hearing.
Paul Doyle, a state senator, is representing the Nowickis. Even Newington’s mayor Stephen Woods has asked the housing authorities why they can’t compromise to keep the couple in their home.
But the housing authority chairman Stephen Karp has said that they won’t make exceptions to the rule.
I have to confess that I’m puzzled why they wouldn’t just allow a 90-year-old World War II veteran who can barely walk to smoke inside of his own home. Do they really think it’s a good idea for a man who has trouble walking and must care for a wife with Alzheimers to struggle to walk a long distance away from her several times a day?
After two decades in a place, shouldn’t Nowicki be grandfathered in against radical changes in the rules? Wouldn’t that be normal policy in most cases like this?
Is it impossible that the new non-smoking rule was actually cooked up to get a person with Alzheimers out of the building without openly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act?
My spidey sense is telling me that there’s probably something wrong here. I’d love to hear what other people make of the Andy Nowicki smoking eviction case.
[photo by Nomad Soul via Shutterstock]