Cigar bars aside, about the last place in Ann Arbor where you can still smoke indoors is the DeLonis Center–the homeless shelter has three ventilated rooms for nicotine-addicted residents. Administrator Mike Austin says Delonis asked for an exemption because it would be too chaotic to send smokers outside: “When people are on the residential floors at night, we don’t want them going up and down the elevator and disrupting other people.”
Austin declines to speculate on how many shelter residents smoke, but two current residents agree that it’s probably in line with national figures for the homeless–between 70 and 80 percent (the rate for the general population is just 20 percent). Both smokers themselves, they collect bottles to pay $3 for roll-your-own kits.
Told that the county has recently launched a smoking-cessation program aimed at the homeless and mentally ill, neither man is interested. “I’m not ready,” says Mike, who says he’s fifty-two and a lifelong Ann Arborite.
What would he need to consider quitting? “A normal life,” he says.