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No Smoking in Your Home? The Next Battle in Smoking Bans

Date Posted: July 19, 2011

V2 Cigs AshtrayNowadays, smokers already feel like second-class citizens as they are being banned from almost all areas accessible to the public. However, with increasing pressure from society, the “No Smoking” could potentially find its way inside your own home whether you like it or not. It’s a battle of the butts and this witch hunt is reaching new levels.

New York for instance, is a city where millions live in swarming co-ops, with neighbors left, right, above and below; along with them also comes their cigarette smoke.  Jane, a 50-year old journalist, whom asked to keep her name private for professional reasons, happens to live in a condo right next to the chain-smoking neighbor from hell.  She explained how all of her outlets are taped up and her windows have been sealed, however her apartment still reeks of stale smoke that seeps through the shared walls.

She recounts that she bought her apartment 15 years ago but that the human chimney moved in the unit next door in 2008 and began puffing on cigarettes, pot and something that “smelled like plastic”. Jane complained repeatedly to her condominium’s board however the association refused to address the issue, much less to bring the topic up during meetings despite the fact that a fire sparked by a different tenant’s smoking habit broke out back in February and left one apartment gutted and did extensive damage to numerous floors.

“They’ve banned smoking in parks, but I can’t have a smoke-free bedroom,” Jane says. It was just 8 years ago that the city made the highly controversial decision to ban smoking in bars and restaurants, followed by a ban in city beaches and parks.  It appears that residential buildings are next on the list given the increasing number of complaints. “Smoking in residential buildings is the hottest, newest issue now,” says real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey, who has received and filed 5 complaints from clients regarding smoking issues in their buildings.

Leitman recalls that back in 2006 a New York City judge ruled that shareholders in co-ops had the right to live free of smoke and that the building’s board, was in fact responsible for enforcing this rule. For the first time, a court had ruled in favor of allowing people to live free of second-hand smoke from their neighbors. In essence, this means that any day now, your building’s association could be knocking at your door to tell you that you are no longer allowed to smoke in your own home.

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