Monday, July 5, 2010
Help Me Howard: Smoking in Condo
You can't smoke in a restaurant. You can't smoke in your office, but can you at least smoke when you get home and sit down in your condo? Great question and for the answer let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Silver Palms Condos were being sold, Ana Anderson was front and center.
Ana Anderson: "Actually, I was the agent that sold all of these units when they were condo conversions back in I think 2004."
She loved the condos so much she put her money where her mouth was and bought one herself.
Ana Anderson: "This one was the first one that was available and I was happy to come and live here at Silver Palms. It's a beautiful place to live."
Ana rented this unit out until she sold her house six months ago and moved in to Silver Palms and the trouble began.
Ana Anderson: "I'm surrounded by smokers and I'm allergic to cigarette smoke."
Cigarette smoke doesn't just irritate Ana, it virtually disables her.
Ana Anderson: "My eye will get all swollen. My lip will get all swollen. I think the one I sent you, my entire neck was full of bumps and the bad part is, it can turn into anaphylactic shock and that's life threatening."
Ana traced the smoking to two neighbors. When she asked one fellow to at least close his balcony doors when he smoked she says he told her that would fill his condo with smoke, so Ana went to work on her unit starting with her sliding glass door.
Ana Anderson: "I sealed it shut. It has silicone caulking in every little crevice and I've duct taped it to boot."
The smoke still came in so she spent thousands on a contractor who found a hole in the wall behind a cabinet and discovered an opening in the AC pipes coming from a smokers condo.
Ana Anderson: "And I have done everything I can to seal that, and my two front doors and I still have smoke issues."
She has bought every product imaginable to do everything from eliminate the odors to wash down the walls, while at the same time complaining to the association.
Ana Anderson: "Their response is they're so sorry, they don't know what they can do."
So, at night when the smokers light up, Ana is forced to get up and head out.
Ana Anderson: "I have to grab my pillow and my little blankie and out the door I go. I knock on somebody's door and say can I sleep on your couch?"
The cigarette smoke damages her health and she says it isn't doing much for her reputation either.
Ana Anderson: "I'm turning into that lady. That lady in the condo such and such, and I don't want to be that lady."
Howard a man's condo may be his castle, so does he have a right to smoke if it's irritating another condo owner.
Howard Finkelstein: "This is your right to smoke in your condo versus someone else's right to enjoy theirs. Legally smokers are losing their rights and the laws are trending to protect the non-smokers in restaurants, public buildings and one day in condominiums too."
After we spoke to the association, they met with Ana at her condo, lit cigarettes in the condos around Ana, she smelled the smoke, they did not until they went out on her balcony. The solution they offered to install some light bulbs like this, which have been proven to absorb odors.
If that doesn't work Angie has another option.
Howard Finkelstein: "If Ana can prove the smoke is coming from her neighbors she can sue them for what the law calls a private nuisance. I believe a judge could order the neighbors to stop smoking, and in a similar situation the judge ordered the smokers to pay for the damage they caused the non-smokers."
Angie doesn't want to sue her neighbors. She likes them, just not their cigarette smoke.
Ana Anderson: "The solution has to be to prevent smoke from getting into my apartment. Actually, better yet, to prevent smoke from leaving the apartment of the smoker."
I remember when I started at channel 7 years ago, people were puffing away in the newsroom all day. We didn't complain because that's just the way it was everywhere. When it comes to cigarette smoking times really have changed.
Troubles lit up your life. Ready to stop the burning. Contact us. We won't get choked up. We'll huff and puff and sit down and read a law book.