From the 2009 News Archive
Tobacco Center Launches Web Site on Smoking and Housing
The Surgeon General has advised that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. While the law requires that workplaces and public places be smokefree, some people nevertheless suffer from involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke where it matters most -- at home. Apartment and condominium residents frequently contact the School of Law's Center for Tobacco Regulation seeking recourse against drifting smoke from a neighboring unit. Condominium owners and multiunit property managers have also contacted the Center to learn about how they can make entire buildings smokefree, including individual units. To assist owners, landlords and tenants, the Center recently launched the website www.mdsmokefreeapartments.org
Many residents mistakenly believe that there is nothing they can do when a neighbor's smoke drifts into their apartment or condominium. However, tenants do have legal rights that may be invoked to protect them from the toxic smoke. Likewise, many landlords believe that they are powerless to stop such smoke drift, or their tenants from smoking. Yet landlords have the power to impose smoking restrictions and the obligation to ensure safe living environments for their tenants. The Centerís website describes each party's rights and obligations and provides practical tips on how to secure or create smokefree multi-unit housing.
National trends show an increasing demand for smokefree housing. A savvy management company could respond to this demand and create a market niche by providing smokefree living. And all management companies would benefit economically from comprehensive smoking restrictions because indoor smoking increases the risk of fire and causes higher maintenance and clean-up costs. The presence of secondhand smoke also creates an unhealthy working environment for maintenance and housekeeping employees. Just as landlords commonly regulate noise levels, pet ownership, even odors, within private units, they may also choose to regulate smoking in their buildings.
The Center's new website informs tenants, landlords and condominium owners about their rights and obligations relating to smoke drift. It also provides practical tools for the resolution of disputes concerning smoke drift, and for the creation of sound smoking restrictions. Interested residents, owners, management companies, and landlords should visit www.mdsmokefreeapartments.org
for technical assistance, sound scientific resources, and practical advice for anyone interested in creating a healthier, safer, and cleaner indoor environment.
Posted by Gynene Sullivan on Feb. 23, 2009