top of page

Community Living: Addressing Secondhand Smoke

Jordan Eilbert

Sep 30, 2023

We all deserve the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

In our great country we all have the rights to do what we want to make us happy.  We can all agree on that, yes?  “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” - It’s in our constitution and it’s ingrained in our society.

This is another saying, however, that many seem to forget: “Your right to swing your fist ends when it strikes my face.”

Obviously we have limitations on our actions when they affect others, and that pushes closer to the “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” for all.

In a community where our neighbors all have a good yard and fence around them, we rarely need to consider the actions we make in our own homes.  Your home is your castle. However our homes, in the Artist Lake -Fairview Condominiums, and all high density community living buildings, are not individual castles, but rather we have close, shared, borders with neighboring kingdoms. The same is true for all condominium, cooperative and apartment communities.

So what happens when someone in another kingdom starts blowing smoke into yours?  There are actions you can take and actions you cannot.  So let’s go over what actions cannot be taken and identify the issue at hand without metaphors: We’re talking about Second Hand Smoke.

Many in our community are smokers, and whatever it is you smoke, most of the residents don’t mind at all. But there is a time when someone’s behavior, even in their own home, can cause a disturbance.  

When you smell smoke, whatever kind, and it’s not coming from you or someone you’re cohabitating with, that’s a problem.

No one wants unwanted smoke in their home, or the scent of it.  So, what do you do when you’re in this position?  Below are a list of DO’S and DON’T’S regarding what you should and could do.  These will vary based on your comfort level and your living situation but use this as a helpful guide.

  • DO: make a note of the time and date of the event you suspected the intrusive smoke. It’s very important for you to make notes of when these events occurred. Write them down on an app or even a piece of paper to make note of later.

  • DON’T: Reach out to Police/Fire Departments to complain.  Smoke intrusion is a civil matter. It is not one the authorities can interfere with.

  •  DO: Speak to your neighbors, both the offender and your other neighbors who have been affected. Speaking to the source of the smoke may solve the issue faster than you expect. They likely don’t know the smoke can be detected in your home. Lawyers both admit that in most cases, smokers are unaware that their second hand smoke may be entering your living space

  • DO: Make a note of the time and date you advised them of the occurrence.

  • DO: Speak to other neighbors who may be affected. Advise them to also take note of the date and the time of the offense.  

  • DON’T: Be Uncivil or Accusatory. While we have plenty to be stressed about when unwanted smells or smoke enters the home, give those the benefit of the doubt when warranted. Even if there’s push back, don’t escalate the situation.  Be Calm, Cool, and Collected when speaking about your concerns. You and your neighbor may be able to come to an understanding over the matter.  If not...

  • DO: Contact your property manager either by phone and follow up with and email, to document the conversation. Explain the time and date of the offense. With the case built by you, and neighbors, express your concerns.

Under our house rules and the house rule of most condominiums, cooperative and apartment complexes regardless of whether you live in Artist Lake or Fairview, we all have bylaws and restrictions on smoke entering your home from someone else’s. We all love to enjoy our time in our homes. 

We love to watch movies, enjoy music and the relaxing methods we all use to unwind. Whether that be a drink, a smoke or just relaxing. But when our actions start to negatively impact our neighbors, there are restrictions we have to make, for the benefit of all.

No one wants to hear loud music during the quiet hours of the night.  No one likes to hear a TV blaring into the early morning.  In that same vein: No one enjoys the smell of unwelcomed recreational smoke wafting into their home.

A little consideration goes a long way.

So, everyone, remember: We all deserve the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.



Suffolk County Local Law to Regulate Smoking in Multiple Dwelling Buildings... 


Smoking is prohibited in common areas of multiple dwelling buildings and within a fifty foot radius of all entrances and exits of such buildings and within fifty-feet of any ventilation intake that serves an enclosed area of a multiple dwelling building.

bottom of page