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Is Your Condo Association Smoke Free?

non-smoking signsSecondary smoke is a large nuisance for non-smokers and can even be dangerous for people with certain health conditions. Although laws in most states permit condo associationsto choose their properties to be partially or fully smoke-free, most condos still allow smoking.

Smoking in apartments is dangerous not only to the smokers, but also to their neighbors:

  • The U.S. Surgeon General has reported conclusively that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Smoke drifts throughout walls and tight spaces, entering other apartments.
  • No ventilation or air cleaning technology can get rid of secondhand smoke completely.

This often fires up a lot of disputes between smoking and non-smoking tenants, putting the condo association in the crossfire. Before taking any sides, see if a compromise can be reached – improving isolation between the units and providing proper ventilation can sometimes be enough to resolve the issue.

Never ignore complaints from non-smokers, but instead try to help resolve them in a civilized fashion. A civilized discussion often proves to be more productive than any fines or threats. If you do, however, feel that the situation is getting out of hand, it might be a good idea to enforce new rules regarding smoking - for example, dividing the building into smoking and non-smoking areas or only allowing smoking on the balconies or open air lobbies.

A recent victory for non-smokers, this summer smoking was banned in The Axis, a luxurious condo building in San Jose. After a woman ended up suing and moving out due to a neighbor’s secondary smoke entering the unit, the board started thinking about the problem. In a vote later that month, smoking was banned 86 to 27, making The Axis one of the first condo associations in California to ban smoking completely.

By prohibiting smoking indoors, you will enjoy these benefits:

  • Market value is actually higher for no-smoking condos
  • No secondary smoke will endanger neighbors or the smokers themselves
  • Condos won’t have the unpleasant smoke odor
  • Relationships between smokers and non-smokers will improve

If you feel your property should go smoke-free, your condo association has the full rights to make that happen, following a board vote. Enforcing the new rules should happen gradually, as all tenants are informed that the building has been voted smoke-free.  Do not threaten smokers with eviction – instead give them a firm notice that smoking in condos is not allowed, and will result in a fine if not followed.


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