Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose. And being able to smoke in your own apartment may soon be a thing of the past, if the New York Post‘s latest “entertainment” piece, featuring the battle between a non-smoker and her “chain-smoking next-door neighbor from hell” is any indication. “Jane,” a 50-year-old journalist, is sick to death of her 1,000-square-foot one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side reeking of cigarette smoke. “I feel like I’m living in a college dorm, and I just want to live like an adult,” she says. (Do college kids even smoke these days?). Despite taping her outlets and sealing her windows, the pervasive odor of cigarettes, pot, and something smelling of plastic (hm) continue to waft in. Jane is in hell! However, the condo board won’t do anything about it. Yet.
Since smoking has been banned in public areas and pretty much everywhere else, residential buildings remain one of the few remaining places where people can actually smoke — not least because it can be hard to track down the culprit, and unless someone complains, why would you bother? But people are complaining. And in 2006 a judge ruled “that a shareholder in a co-op has the right to live free of smoke, and the board is responsible to enforce the rights of victims (in these cases, second-hand smoke complainants).”
This means that it’s up to the board to decide. In the case of Jane, whose condo board said “mandating a smoke-free building would be an impossible task,” it sounds like the smokers rightists will win this particular battle. But as more and more people quit smoking, the majority opinion will change, meaning…where will the smokers live?
Somebody should invest in a no-non-smokers condo, right about now.
Well, we’ll always have this. Until we don’t.
By the way: 311 does not care if you are annoyed by your smoking neighbor.
Battle of the butts [NYP]
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 14, 2011