Dealing with Secondhand Smoke at Home

Dealing with Secondhand Smoke at Home

May 30, 2012

We've developed a series of fact sheets to help communities and individuals better understand options for dealing with unwanted secondhand smoke exposure in the home:

  • Working with a landlord or condo board to implement a smokefree policy
  • Accessing the protections afforded by disability laws, or
  • Suing a neighbor or landlord (a last resort)
  • Protecting yourself from secondhand smoke at your condo if the complex is not ready to adopt a smokefree policy

Communities across the state are beginning to consider laws that specifically limit smoking in multi-unit housing. But even where such laws have not yet been adopted, there are a number of legal and policy options available.

One way to protect multi-unit housing residents from secondhand smoke is through a policy that applies throughout the property. Our fact sheet “How Landlords Can Prohibit Smoking in Rental Housing” ("Cómo los propietarios pueden prohibir fumar en las viviendas de alquiler"), explains how an apartment building landlord can make common areas nonsmoking and change existing leases to make individual units smokefree.

Tenants who have a medical condition made worse by drifting secondhand smoke also may find help through existing state and federal disability laws. “How Disability Laws Can Help Tenants Suffering from Drifting Tobacco Smoke” (“Como las leyes de discapacidad pueden ayudar a los inquilinos afectados por el humo de tabaco que entra a su vivienda”), another fact sheet, explains who qualifies for protection under disability laws, what legally constitutes a “reasonable accommodation,” and how tenants can make their request most effectively.

In condos, where each unit of housing is owned separately, addressing the problem of drifting secondhand smoke can be especially challenging. “How to Make a Condo Complex Smokefree” (“Cómo hacer que un complejo de condominios quede libre de humo”) outlines the three main ways a condo board or tenants can vote to restrict smoking in a condo complex and compares the pros and cons of each. For condo residents whose complex is not ready to implement a smokefree policy, “Options for Condo Owners Suffering from Drifting Secondhand Smoke” outlines six other approaches.

For residents who've unsuccessfully tried everything from negotiating with a neighbor to getting a smokefree housing law adopted in their community, suing a neighbor may appear to be the only option left. It should be the last resort, but if a lawsuit seems to be the only remaining option, Our fact sheet “Legal Options for Tenants Suffering from Drifting Tobacco Smoke” (“Opciones legales para inquilinos afectados por el humo de tabaco que entra a su vivienda”) outlines a number of questions to consider.