Advice about Neighbors' Smoking
Berkeley Parents Network >
Parenting, Families, & the Community >
Advice about Neighbors' Smoking
I live in a Berkeley apartment and my neighbors beside me and below me smoke.
When it's hot, I have to open the windows, but when I do, the smoke comes in.
I have severe allergies and am wondering if a hepa filter would be of great help?
Does anyone out there have experience with this type of thing?
I really wish we could put in place a non-smoking ordinance in Berkeley so that
smoking in apartments or near them would be eliminated! I don't think this is likely
to happen, though!
surrounded by smoke
I would recommend filling your house with house plants, and getting two or three
hepa filter air cleaners. House plants help to clear the air of toxins, and the
hepa filters can't hurt. Don't get the filterless ones that add ozone to your air,
though. Also, research dietary changes to help your allergies.
There is a possibility that smoking could be banned in all shared housing.
It is now legal for landlords to ban smoking, except in Berkeley.
The rent board wants to protect tenants who have been renting the same apartment
for a long time.
Personally, I think people who have rent controlled apartments with low rents have
already enjoyed sufficient benefit from their apartments and should not be allowed
to annoy or endanger the health of others.
I agree with Carol Denny; all indoor smoking should be banned in shared housing in
Let your opinion be known! Contact the Rent Board!
Our neighbors are chain smokers. Since they rent, they are not allowed to smoke inside
the house. They smoke outdoors and with our houses so close together, the smoke easily
makes its way to our house. We have to keep our windows closed all the time and we go
inside when they smoke. We rarely use our backyard anymore. Two of us have asthma and my
daughter says she feels like a prisoner.
We were hoping to find a product that they can use when they smoke that will suck in the
smoke. Using a fan between houses isn't really practical, so we're hoping to find a
product that can suck in the second hand smoke or some other strategy. Our neighbors are
nice folks, but have this habit that has impacted our lives just too much. They have no
plans on quitting. Any ideas are welcome. Thanks.
I understand your issues with smoking neighbors. I live in an East Bay condo & have been
dealing with smoking neighbors for the past 1 1/2 years. My advice is to contact the homeowner
directly, since the renters won't stop smoking. There is no constitutional right to smoke.
Furthermore, since you have asthma, you are protected by California & federal disability laws,
which have a process to request ''reasonable accommodation'' to ensure people with disabilities
have equal opportunity to access & enjoy their homes. Have your doctor write a strongly worded
letter stating the secondhand smoke is adversely affecting your health. Document the days/times
the neighbors smoke. Show the letter & documentation to the homeowner. This may result in
disciplinary action taken against the renters, or they may be evicted & non-smoking tenants may
replace them. Be prepared for your relationship with your neighbors to possibly deteriorate.
You can find more information at www.changelabsolutions.org, www.tobaccofreeCA.com and the
California Dept. of Public Health. Good luck!
been there & still battling
We live in a townhouse development, and last week our new
next-door neighbor moved in. We were friendly, but have not
seen her much. However we smell her smoking, even when she
smokes on her patio which is right next to ours.
And she has two little dogs that bark. We have one dog who
usually doesn't bark, but when they start, he may reply. This
morning the neighbor dogs started barking at 6:30am, but our
little guy kept his cool.
Any suggestion how to approach this. They may be neighbors for
a long time.
Regarding problem with neighbors who smoke & have barking
dogs, I would suggest that you talk to them first.
Introduce yourself, then explain about smoke drifting into
your home & dogs barking. If that doesn't work, you may
want to contact your townhome's management company. I had
a similar problem with smoking neighbors & finally
resolved it with repeated complaints to management
company, who sent several letters to the smokers. You
might also contact Serena Chen of American Lung
Association in Oakland. Her number is 510-638-5864 & she
knows laws about 2nd hand smoke, & advocates for smoke-
free environments. And maybe they can keep their dogs
inside or muzzled for the barking issue.
hope this helps you
ChangeLab Solutions has some good resources on their website
for folks trying to limit secondhand smoke exposure at home,
including some fact sheets specifically for condo dwellers.
Clean Air Fan
I own a condo in Pinole & 2 of my neighbors smoke (1 is a
renter). My daughter has asthma & smoke is aggravating her
health problems. I have talked to renter, owner &
homeowners association to complain about secondhand smoke
entering my unit through the air vents. Renter doesn't
care, owner can't force renter to do anything, homeowners
association said they need to confer with their lawyer & I
can take tenants to small claims court if I want to.
There's a no smoking ordinance in Pinole but I don't know
how to take this further to get the people to stop smoking
on their patios & in their units. Any advice?
just want fresh air
I went through a similar situation with a smoking neighbor and unresponsive
landlord . I contacted Serena Chen of the American Lung Association in Oakland.
She is familiar with the law about second hand smoke, is very helpful and a fierce
advocate for a smoke-free environment.
I seriously doubt that clouds and clouds of secondhand smoke are entering
your home. My advice to you would be to mind your own business, or
move. You can't tell others what they can and can't do in their homes.
Home is the one place nanny state government hasn't entirely invaded, and
for the most part we can still do what we like there. I'd like to keep it that
Of course second hand smoke is getting into your condo. Maybe not
''clouds'' of it as another poster (a smoker I'm sure) said, but it's there. I
do not think you should move unless of course it become detrimental
your child health. I also live in a condo. What people don't understand
is that, while you should not be told what you can and can't do in your
own home, condo living is a little different. You are sharing the building
with the other owners so while your unit is your home, the building
belongs to everyone. If someones actions are causing health issues for
another - they should stop. Maybe it's not legally required, but it's the
right thing to do. Get that renter out however you can. Take the advice
of the other poster and get help.
I have to agree with another poster in that your neighbor
has a right to smoke as much as you have a right not to. I
too seriously doubt dilute second hand smoke entering your
unit has any ill affects other than odor. Nevertheless,
there is a solution-at least during warm weather. First off
you can block off any intake air duct with plastic and duct
tape. Open a window elsewhere to get fresh air in. An
additional step is to place your unit in ''positive pressure''
by using a fan on the ''odor free'' side of your unit (a
window or cracked door with security lock) and blow fresh
air into your unit from outside. This should expel air from
the intake picking up the neighbor's smoke. You could also
provide a month's supply of nicotine patches to the
neighbors as a friendly gesture.
I actually take
secondhand smoke complaints for a living and I have a few
pieces of info that may be helpful. First, call your County
Health Department and/or the American Lung Association. They
can tell you if there are any laws in place to protect you
locally or let you know if there is a campaign going on in
your city to strengthen protections. Tell your city council
that you are having a problem. They have the power to
change the law if there isn't one and can enforce the law if
there is one.
Secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing can make people
REALLY sick and result in long term health effects. I've
seen it. It doesn't just ''dissipate''. Concerns about the
rights of the smoker, as some people have cited in this
thread, are very common. Smokers are not a protected class
of people under the constitution or any other law in the
U.S. The problem isn't the smoker, it's the smoke, which
travels and is proven to cause a variety of health issues.
Smokers can live anywhere (they are not discriminated
against) but they can't smoke in non-smoking areas, which in
some places includes individual units. People deal with it.
My analogy for people concerned about the govt telling
people what they can and can't do in their own house is
this: you can get as hammered as you want in your own house.
You can even drink yourself to death in your own house if
you want to. But if that behavior affects other people (you
get really noisy, you get violent, you get behind the wheel
of a car), then the government has the authority to step in
and make you stop the behavior that is having an impact on
others. Same thing with secondhand smoke. It's a public
health issue, and a real one at that.
I live in a neighborhood of mostly single-family homes. Next
door to me, for the past 30 years lives a single woman who
supports herself mostly by renting out rooms, but, as she is
fairly unstable, tenants tend to leave after short stays. The
current tenant is a man living on disability, in his 50s, whose
ladyfriend spends most of her time in the house too, although
she is not on the lease. She is the problem.
She chain-smokes all day and most of the night out on the front
porch, which is directly beneath our bedroom window. Our house
reeks of cigarette smoke. Worse than that, she has a condition
that sounds like advanced emphesema, and during the nights,
while she sleeps out on the porch, she chokes, coughs and
wheezes helplessly for hours on end. We cannot sleep, of
course, and our offers of help have been rejected. Anyhow,
there is little help we can realistically offer, because her
condition is so far gone.
So we have a sick and addicted women living, day and night,
right outside our windows, who is not even legally supposed to
be there. The obvious suggestion, which is to approach the
landlady, won't really work as she herself is pretty
disfunctional. Any ideas of how to approach this: legally?
compassionately? effectively? Thanks for any suggestions you
have to offer.
I guess it depends on how much it means to you..
One idea would be to offer to buy her Nicarette gum. This can be
a pricey thing to do, but if she agreed to use it while next
door, she'd save some money and you'd avoid some smoke in the
window. She'd probably still cough ( more so than usual for the
first week or two because the mechanism the lungs use to clean
themselves of gunk would be coming back on-line after chronically
being suppressed by the cigarettes). You'd have to tell her to
not chew it all at once, but to chew each piece until she feels a
tingle and then tuck it in her cheek for a few minutes, then
repeat. You'd do her health a HUGE favor. She might not be
motivated to use the gum to cut back( taper) but many use
Nicarette longterm.I've seen very psychiatrically impaired people
benefit from it.
Any advice on how to deal with second hand smoke in a condo or
apartment setting? I am expecting my first child soon. My
neighbor smokes like a chimney and often it comes through one of
the shared walls in my condo. This happens at least once a day.
I have approached the neighbor twice, have talked to my HOA, and
both have been extremely uncooperative. I took steps to seal
open vents and outlets, and bought two very high-end air
filters. However, I have determined that the smoke is actually
seeping through the wall.
I have managed to avoid the smoke as much as possible by
spending time in other rooms where the smoke does not enter, but
I still smell it and am concerned about the health of my family
and new baby. Are there any contractors anyone can recommend
that can fix the obvious structural defect in the shared wall?
Also has anyone managed to have a healthy child in an apt/condo
where second hand smoke was an issue? Moving is not an option at
this time. Thank you for any direction you can provide.
Non-smoker but affected by smoke anyway
What a bummer...! I've lived in several places over the years
where smoke has seeped into my home from another (from below or
next door) through a shared wall or floor/ceiling. I cannot give
you any specific advice on dealing with the situation.
On the plus side, my husband grew up with parents who smoked. He
does not have any health problems, except, perhaps for his
somewhat hostile attitude toward smokers.
Hi- Yes, in regards the smoking issue,you're in luck, if you
live in Dublin,Emeryville,Albany,Oakland,or Marin,San Mateo or
Contra Costa Counties, there is a No Smoking Ordinance in these
areas. I had the same problem with tenants smoking,and saw an
article in the June 11,2008 issue of the East Bay Express:Smoke
Free Nation, by Eric Klein. You may want to check it out on
line, the article gives a lot of important details about
smoking being banned in multi-housing units,(ie condos,apts),
if you are not living in these areas I stated above, you may
want to call your City Administrator, to see if there is any
Non Smoking Ordinance in your vicinity.If you happen to be
living in the areas that a Smoking Ban is in order, you can get
a copy of the Ordinance, and ''enlighten'' your landlord,or
person in charge, and state that if the issue is not addressed
you will begin to reinforce the smoking ban, which is the
law.Good luck and hope this helps!
Hi there - I'm on maternity leave right now but where I work can
help you with information and resources on this topic - we get
questions like this all the time. Contact Americans for
Nonsmokers' Rights at email@example.com, or 510/841-3032. You may
also want to check out our website, where you can find a lot of
good information: www.no-smoke.org - or just go directly to this
page: http://no-smoke.org/goingsmokefree.php?id=595, aimed
specifically at tenants in your situation. Good luck!
--- You have a right to a smokefree home
Help, help, help. I am a condo owner in Moraga. I have
neighbors (from the old country) who don't know/don't care about
the dangers of secondhand smoke. I have an almost 4 year old.
The smell that comes into my unit is incredible. So many people
say that they can't smell it, but it's making me insane. I was
advised to try mediation first (there's just no way this would
work!). Small claims court does not seem to be the answer
either. This would be a civil issue. I would certainly
represent myself. There really is no legal precendent for this.
My condo rules have the expanded definition for nuisance --
beyond just noise, but they seem to think they can do whatever
they want in their apt. Help??
Unless your condo association has rules about not smoking in one's unit, it doesn't seem like there is anything you can do to ''force'' them to stop. While I sympathize with your situation, I'm a little shocked about your tone: ''they seem to think they can do whatever they want in their apt.'' Um, unless they're doing something illegal or against the rules, isn't that true?
I'd suggest that you talk to them nicely to see if you can work out with a compromise. (Are there certain times of day when it's worse? are there some places they might smoke where it might not affect you as much?) At the same time, get your building manager to investigate the reason/try to prevent the smoke from leaking into your unit and also invest in a very good HEPA air filter.
- sorry, no fan of smoking but you can't just be a bully either
You might look at 'Neighbor Law' by Cora Jordan, published by Nolo Press. It may be available at your local library.
My sister and brother-in-law have moved into an apartment in a duplex
building. To their extreme dismay, they discovered after moving in
that the downstairs tenants are heavy smokers who have lived there for 20
years. Can anyone recommend a product that will control the stale tobacco
smell that permeates my sister's apartment, both the living areas and the
closets? They are also looking into installing air purifiers for the
apartment as well as for the inside staircase that they share with the
downstairs tenants. Any recommendations? Thanks!
I moved into a townhouse that was previously occupied by smokers and the
drapes were soaked with the smell of tobacco. I sprayed Febreeze on
them one time and the odor was completely gone.
this page was last updated: Feb 7, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are transitioning to a new website during
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network