The consequences of ignoring a “no smoking” sign could be devastating for an 89-year-old World War II vet and wife in Connecticut. They may get kicked out of their $714-per-month apartment. But a state senator is fighting for the war hero’s right to smoke in the apartment building’s breezeway.
Andy Nowicki, who turns 90 in a month, is a decorated combat veteran. He was twice wounded in the Second World War, including during the invasion of Anzio, Italy. He also fought in North Africa, France and Germany.
He also took part in the U.S. Army’s morale-boosting program in which troops were issued cigarettes for free. Nowicki has been a dedicated smoker for the seven decades since.
The combat wounds he suffered still make it painful for him to walk, one reason why he doesn’t make the 10-foot stroll outside the building to a spot where puffing away is permitted.
Now the Housing Authority in Newington, a town in central Connecticut, wants Nowicki and his wife Leona, a 90-year-old Alzheimer’s patient, out in the street. And not just to smoke.
"It's like they're going to turn this into a concentration camp," Nowicki told the Hartford Courant. "I don't know why they singled me out."
State Senator Paul Doyle, a Democrat and an attorney, is fighting for the Nowickis free of charge.
“Personally, I couldn't sleep at night evicting a 90-year-old war hero from government-subsidized housing," Doyle said.
The couple’s daughter, Janet, says that her parents have nowhere else to go. She can’t remodel her house to accommodate their handicaps quickly enough.
Newington’s mayor has also sided with the Nowickis. But the town’s housing authority refuses to bend, saying there is no reason Nowicki cannot comply with the 10-foot smoking buffer rule.
"He has a walker and a scooter," said Executive Director Melinda Harvey said. "He gets around the property pretty well."
SOURCES: Hartford Courant, WTIC 1080