I have a friend who has just rented an apartment downtown, top floor, great view, reasonable price, close to all the amenities, as they say.
One problem: invasive cigarette smoke. It was driving him crazy. Every time he was in the kitchen, he could smell cigarette smoke, the unmistakable scent of growing up in a house where both parents smoked, of going to pubs and dances where smoking was allowed, of riding on buses and trains and even airplanes where passengers smoked.
All that has changed, of course, and the only place smokers can indulge their filthy, feculent habit is in their own homes; one of them happens to be the guy living next to my friend, and for all he knows, some of the other tenants on his floor.
On the pretence of introducing himself, he knocked on the door next to his, and when it was opened, it was 1963 and he was coming home from school again, and he was smacked in the face with second-hand smoke.
Even the hall smelled of the foul presence of tobacco smoke.
In spite of all his efforts, the tips he had gleaned from the Internet - bowls of vinegar or ammonia throughout the apartment, a fan in the window, cloves and cinnamon simmering in a pan on the stove, incense, scented candles, Febreze, for God's sake from all those ridiculous ads on TV - nothing worked.
My friend has been an ardent non-smoker all his life, belonged to non-smokers' rights groups, argued for a smoke-free workplace, chastised his parents and friends for their smoking (although he wouldn't turn down a date with a woman who smoked!).
But what to do about his neighbour? Wait for him to quit or die, neither one of which was about to happen? Try and find out if there was any legal recourse? Hire a professional hit man? He was starting to get headaches from the second-hand smoke. He wasn't about to let this guy jeopardize his new lifestyle.
Again, we consult the Internet gods: reams of material about smokers' rights here and in other jurisdictions, some of which ban smoking in multi-unit facilities such as apartment buildings and seniors' homes, all in the name of health - the dangers of second-hand smoke - and maintenance: cleaning up after one of these puffing pariahs entails a lot of work, getting the smell out of drapes and carpets. Matter of fact, in a document called the Residential Tenancy Agreement that all tenants have to sign before they take possession, there are sections dealing with the issue of smoking: number 17, for instance, states, "In order to promote the safety, welfare, enjoyment, and comfort of other occupants and tenants... the tenant or the tenant's guests must not disturb, harass or ANNOY (my capitals) another occupant of the property... In addition, noise or behaviour which in the reasonable opinion of the landlord may disturb the COMFORT (again) of any occupant... must not be made by the tenant." In section 25, the agreement speaks to the misuse or damage of common areas of the residential property. Don't stink up the halls, lobby, or laundry room, in other words.
Section 27 admonishes the tenant to "maintain reasonable health, cleanliness and sanitary standards throughout the rental unit and the residential property to which the tenant has access." Need we say more? Do we have a case or not? Have you ever kissed one of these smokers or smelled their clothes after a night out with his/her smoking buddies? What about the beer cans with butts in them, the yellowed fingers and teeth (Kramer: "Don't look at me, I'm hideous!"), the lack of respect? Although, I must admit, the people I know who do smoke are nothing but respectful in my presence - all two of them! So there you have it: annoying, uncomfortable, unsanitary.
Give them their own building. Somewhere else.
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