In case you missed it, Channel 8 did a good piece last night on the dangers of secondhand smoke and the problems that nonsmokers in apartments and condos are increasingly experiencing with it.
Here at Smokefree DC, we get a regular – and increasing – stream of calls and emails from people who are desperate to know how to cope.
The answer isn’t easy. First, you can talk to the smoker and see if you can persuade him or her to smoke outside (I actually had luck with this a few years ago in my own building). If that doesn’t work, you can turn to the condo covenants committee or the apartment management. There should be rules that everyone lives by regarding nuisances. If you can’t have band practice in your apartment at 3 a.m. or grill on your balcony because those bother or endanger your neighbors, then it stands to reason that you can’t poison your neighbors either.
If that doesn’t work, you can turn to the condo board itself. After that, call a lawyer. Common law can help.
But it’s a long process. In Virginia, one unfortunate couple went so far as to move out of their Old Town Alexandria townhouse because the smoke got so bad. They have a small child and she is seven months pregnant. They are living with her parents. Check out their story.