Passive Tobacco Smoke and....
Housing Rights
Fresh Air - Passive Smoke - Ventilation - The Movement for Smoke-Free Rights

Many people think smoking is a pleasure with a limited risk of disease. Actually smoking itself is a disease. Everyone exposed to cigarette smoke suffers from this disease.

Page Index:

Global Resources
Discussion Groups
Colorado Resources
About Smoking & Tenants
Air Flow Testing
Smoke Abatement
Symptoms of Passive Smoke
Recommendations for Landlords

This page offers many links pertaining to nonsmoker rights, smoking as a health problem, and to stop-smoking resources, as well as much direct advice on existing remedies for passive smoke. But the central focus will remain on tenant fresh air rights. Illustrations will soon be added to liven up this page.

The topic of environmental tobacco smoke in tenant housing is gradually being recognized as a monumental quality-of-life and health issue for tenants and condominium owners. It is becoming a heated issue in many communities where tenants and condo dwellers have gone to court to fight for the right to breathe without having to move. Unlike the issue of passive smoke in public places like restaurants and offices, smoke-sick tenant housing poses differing legal complexities. TenantRights.Net wishes to thank the Denver chapter of The American Cancer Society as well as GASP of Colorado and other organizations for their spirited referrals and timely advice that helped launch this section.

Global Resources - (See also Colorado Listings further down.)

NewsGroups for Smoke-Free Discussion

Colorado Resources

Tenant Rights Net would like to find out the Denver locations of badly smoke-infested apartment buildings as well as apt. buildings that forbid smoking or have ventillation systems that absolutely prevent passive smoke from entering. We would also like to hear from tenants who might be interested in organizing for tenant fresh air rights to discuss options and possibly to lobby city, state, and federal government for architectural and other remedies to stop passive smoke. Send us an email.

About Smoking and Tenants

Many smokers take the position that their smoking is strictly their business and causes no harm to others. But in the environment of rental housing, migrating cigarette smoke is responsible for significantly degrading the health and quality of life for millions of nonsmokers. It causes respiratory, eye and skin irritation, leads to greater susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. It disturbs sleep and may also cause lethargy, nausea or dizziness. In many cases passive smoke migrating between apartments also creates a stale and powerful stench that is demoralizing to the nonsmoker and may even ruin any hope of a domestic social life. Non smokers do not like to socialize where putrid smoking odors are present. The typical nonsmokers does not have an easy time dating or courting a nonsmoking mate who is offended by the migrating stench of passive smoke.

TenantRights.Net takes the position that suicide by coffin nail is anyone's perfect right, so long as the smoker does not drag anyone else into their misery. Smokers have a right to smoke although we nonsmokers have a more pressing right to breathe.

Since smoking has become recognized as a powerful form of legal drug addiction, smokers will indeed smoke regardless of the wishes of others. Many will not stop even after contracting horrible respiratory diseases.

Many apartment buildings are relatively unaffected by passive smoke while other buildings suffer from "sick building syndrome" (SBS). The actual design of any apartment building or condominium will determine it's ability to prevent the migration of passive cigarette smoke from one unit to another. In some buildings this problem is severe. In some locales, passive cigarette smoke has become a viable issue for court litigation where remedies are not readily made available.

Recently TenantRights.Net has observed that slowly, a social mandate is evolving to legally require builders and rental property owners to prevent migratory cigarette smoke. Tenants have reportedly sued to force landlords to block smoke migration. We will remain alert for any media reports pertaining to this long overdue change.

Simple Test Method for Air Flow Gaps & Breaches

There are simple methods to confirm the flow of air through all the many gaps and breaches in an apartment or condo. The simplest method can be called a "smoke test". All that's required is a stick of incense. For better results it helps to conduct a pressurized smoke test by using a fan. Just follow the steps below:

Migratory Smoke and Odor Abatement

Our direct investigation of the physical structure of several housing units has turned up a shocking number of channels where putrid odors can migrate not only from adjacent units, but also from units at any other part of a building. Essentially tenants are forced to breathe "communal air" in all but the most up to date green-design buildings. The problem of migratory tenant air is not limited to cigarette smoke. It also delivers unwanted cooking odors, bathroom smells, allergens, pet odors and the disagreeable smell of unpleasant soaps and hygiene items.

Even a modern rental housing unit may give the deceptive appearance of being airtight while offering plenty of windows for ventilation. Typically a rental showing may occur in a vacant apartment on a weekday afternoon. But some buildings become nicotine stench houses from sundown until morning. Weekdays may offer a severe exacerbation of the problem as more smoking tenants are home from work.

How Smoke and Bad Air Migrates - Where to Seal

The chain smoker in one apartment can supply a nonsmoker with years of putrid stench while speeding both to an early grave. Smoke dissipates into an invisible gas that is a recipe of poisons including nicotine, ammonia and carbon monoxide. The smoke typically migrates from the smoker's apartment through countless air channels, then passing into the hollow structure under floorboards and between walls. Following are some of the many ways that smoke migrates and possible remedies:

Personal and Environmental....
Symptoms of Smoke-Sick Rental Units

Following are some of the symptoms you may experience from uncontrolled passive cigarette smoke as it lowers the quality and length of your life:

Recommendations for Landlords

Air-Safe Housing as a Tenant Right - Demand it!

As consumers and tenants become more demanding of environmental health, air-safe housing will trickle down to all tenants. This process could take another generation or more and will be partly driven in the courts by litigants who have suffered the ill effects and discomforts of migrating smoker stench, allergens, and other odors. Currently, air-safe "green" housing is a luxury sold and rented only at a premium.

Air safe rental housing will require ongoing improvements in construction standards. In fact, all the methods and materials have long existed and have been implemented upon demand when property owners pay for it. The problem is that air-safe housing is not standard for common rental housing units. Therefore tenants must demand air-safe rental housing legislation, vastly improved construction practices and changes in the actual uniform mechanical and electrical codes that govern such construction.

Of equal concern is the air-safe upgrading of existing housing units where migrant cigarette odors and other pathogenic air is evident. TenantRights.Net implores respiratory health organizations to take an active role in promoting and legally mandating air-safe housing for tenants of all income levels but especially lower income housing where smoking levels and effects are more acute and close confined.

The bottom line is that all tenant housing should be air-safe and free of cross-unit migrating odors and allergens. It should be a top priority of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. It should be the topic of university studies and the scientific community. Air-safe rental housing should be the law, everywhere!

Once again Colorado based Group to Alleviate Smoking Pollution (GASP) <GaspForAir.org> has a nice web site section on environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) citing many actual cases that have been litigated in courts. Go to their web site and click "Education."

See also: Safe Air Housing


More Smoke-Free content yet to come!
The "Smoke-Free Housing Rights" section was started Feb. 21, 2001..