Smokefree DC is a citizen-based group whose goal is to promote smokefree environments in Washington, DC.

Greenbelt community meeting on secondhand smoke highlights nonsmokers' rights

“That’s life.”

So muttered the woman next to me at a community meeting convened last night in the Greenbelt Community Center last night to discuss the problem of intrusion of secondhand smoke from one apartment to another. The woman was not very sympathetic to the plight of nonsmokers. What an appalling comment. I wonder how she would feel if she was the one breathing secondhand smoke all the time.

The meeting was called by David Schuman, who is suing his Greenbelt Homes neighbor over secondhand smoke that regularly seeps into Schuman’s apartment. The idea was to discuss the issue with his neighbors and provide information.

Also presenting were James Repace, a reknowned health physicist and expert on secondhand smoke; John O’Hara, founder of Maryland GASP; a couple from Montgomery County who are suing a condo neighbor over secondhand smoke; and a woman from Montgomery County who also is suing over a neighbor’s secondhand smoke.

The room was packed and the discussion lively. A few good points were made:

First, that secondhand smoke is a poison. There is no safe level of exposure to it. Second, that the situation of one resident’s smoke intruding into another resident’s home is no different from other things deemed nuisances by most condo boards and apartment managers. For instance, many condo rules have clauses prohibiting noxious cooking smells or loud noises.

One woman, a neighbor of Schuman’s who has had to use her asthma inhaler and sleep in another room because of cigarette smoke coming into her home, noted that if a resident were burning tires and sending toxic fumes into other dwellings, the coop and city would immediately order him to stop.

Ben Kramer, a Maryland state delegate, was in attendance. He has taken an interest in the issue. Let’s hope he can do something when the Legislature convenes next year.

In the meantime, to the woman who muttered “that’s life,” may your neighbor start burning tires in his backyard tomorrow.


1 comment to Greenbelt community meeting on secondhand smoke highlights nonsmokers’ rights

  • I pity those that get secondhand smoke from their neighbors in their apartments. And the worse scenario is if they reach the level of third hand smoke. I heard that third hand smoking leaves the smoke residues and smell in the things like furniture and clothes and stuff. It also causes health risks and really dangerous to to children and people with less resistance.

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