Remain Diplomatic When Extinguishing Secondhand Smoking

November 20, 2015
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Many condo associations face an increased number of complaints from nonsmokers about their smoking neighbors and are being asked to take action. Oftentimes, associations are put in the awkward position of resolving the conflict between smoking and nonsmoking members. The emotions involved are heightened due to the fact that smokers believe that they have a right to smoke in their own homes, while nonsmokers believe that they have a right not to be exposed to harmful secondhand smoke.

There is no legal requirement that an association must adopt smoking restrictions, but there is legal support permitting associations to implement a smoking ban, or limitations, in common areas and even within units in some instances.

Associations contemplating a no-smoking policy should survey owners for feedback, in addition to examining the structure of the building, ventilation systems, weather-stripping of doors and windows, and related building components to determine how effective and desired a smoking ban may be in the community.

Requiring smokeless ashtrays, the installation of an air filtration system, or other measures to effectively diffuse the smoke may offer workable solutions in communities with smokers without making smoking members feel as though their rights are being impinged. Other considerations for a no-smoking policy may include a “grandfathering” provision to protect existing owners who smoke, or designating certain locations and/or times for smoking.