Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Help Me Howard: Smoking in Building
Even if you love your job, every now and then, work simply stinks, and for one office staff in South Florida, that can be taken literally. That's because cigarette smoke from the folks next door is dragging on their patience. Now they're calling Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser to smoke out a solution.
WSVN -- Ofelia Beiro: "Properties are not moving, nothing is buying, nothing is selling."
If you are in the real estate business, this is a breathtaking time for all the wrong reasons.
Ofelia Beiro: "That's an understatement. Yes, very slow."
What Ofelia's staff needs is a breath of fresh air, which they are not getting at work.
Ofelia Beiro: "It smells, it's very uncomfortable. We don't smoke. The building is a non-free smoking building."
It may be listed as a smoke-free building, but it's not.
Ofelia Beiro: "The hallway just reeks of it."
After Ofelia lifted a ceiling tile, she realized she would not have to go far to find the smokers. They seemed to be puffing away right next door.
Ofelia Beiro: "They promote cigarettes. They come with boxes and boxes of cigarettes."
Apparently, they are testing the product, so Ofelia asked them to put their buds down.
Ofelia Beiro: "We knocked on the door, and the door opened, and the smoke comes out. They are very nice, very polite, very friendly, but when you tell them, 'Please don't smoke,' they ignore you."
When her hopes of stopping the smokers went up in smoke, she turned to the landlord.
Ofelia Beiro: "I know the gentleman that handles the building here has knocked on their door too, the property manager has knocked on their door, but they keep doing it."
Not only does it stink.
Ofelia Beiro: "I walk out of here smelling like cigarettes, and I don't even smoke."
Most importantly, it's dangerous.
Ofelia Beiro: "That's doing damage to my lungs, as far as I'm concerned."
Ofelia Beiro: "We have one of the girls here who's asthmatic, and she has problems with that."
But Ofelia has complained to everyone from the Fire Department to the County, and the smokers are still puffing away.
Ofelia Beiro: "We just ran out of people to call."
Well, we are not surprised we are last on a list, but, hopefully, we can be first to answer the question. Can you stop someone from smoking in another part of a building? Let's light up the lawyer.
Howard Finkelstein: "You can absolutely stop a smoker. Not only can the smoker be fined, but the owner can be fined for not stopping it."
When we knocked on the office where the smoke seemed to be coming from, no one would open the door. When we asked them if anyone was smoking inside, they said, "No." Later we were told the person who smoked there got a new job and left. Ofelia says she has not smelled smoke since we showed up with our camera. Bottom line, you don't have to put up with a smoker.
Howard Finkelstein: "If someone is smoking in your office, or the building you work in, and they won't stop, go to management, and if that doesn't work, contact the state Health Department. They will get it stopped.
Now, with real estate puttering, Ofelia has the time to take a breath of clean fresh air and work on her putting.
Patrick Fraser: "Now if someone's cigarette smoke is bothering you, here is the number to call to complain: 1-800-3FRESH-AIR. You can do it anonymously. Technically, smoking in places where it's banned is a crime, but you don't go to jail for it, just a ticket of $100 for the smoker and $250 for the business that allows the smoking."
Smoke coming out of your ears? Don't let it be a drag. Fire us up. We don't puff out our chests, but we've got the legal lung capacity to get things done.
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