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Q&A: Condo smoker, Columbus and tobacco

The smoker below

What can I do about a smoker in a condo below me who smokes on her patio and pollutes the air on my balcony and in my bedroom? What are my rights?

For help with this question we turned to Richard White, a licensed community association manager in Florida whose column appears monthly in the Times. He writes:

"The answer is not a simple statement or solution. What I have suggested in the past is that the owner of the unit above or below the smoker write letters to the board and the smoker. If the smoker is a renter, then the letter should be addressed to the apartment owner as well.

"The question is, what power does the board of directors have to enforce a no-smoking ban on the patio/balcony? In truth, the board has limited powers to stop the smoking. Then the best answer is to convince the smoker of the problem and ask him or her to take steps not to allow secondhand smoking.

"As an owner who is affected, you have limited powers to keep them from smoking on their balcony. Legally, you might get a doctor's order that you are allergic to the smoke and then take the matter to court to have a judge enforce a no-smoking zone. Yes, this is expensive and really does not obtain the objective without harsh feelings. I do not recommend this action unless you cannot correct the problem with letters and you do have serious health problems with secondhand smoke.

"Many times a smoker will not realize that his or her smoke is affecting other homeowners. Communicating in writing many times will correct the problem. I've also seen older buildings that have exhaust fans that need cleaning and or repair that may help the problem. The problem with this is it does become an expense for the condominium."

Columbus' cigar

I read somewhere that Christopher Columbus was the first European to have smoked a cigar. What is the story of smoking? When did it become a worldwide habit? Did the Native Americans smoke tobacco in their peace pipes?

Native Americans reportedly smoked tobacco for medicinal and ceremonial purposes before Columbus arrived in 1492. Columbus took some tobacco and seeds back to Europe, but it was another half-century before tobacco use became popular for many throughout Europe.

The first commercial tobacco crop in the new world was cultivated in 1612 by John Rolfe. At first tobacco was mostly used for pipes, chewing and snuff. By the early 1800s cigars became popular, and cigarettes followed after the Civil War.

The World Health Organization estimates more than 1 billion people smoke worldwide, with 80 percent of them from low- and middle-income countries. The consumption of tobacco products continues to grow, despite the health risks.

Q&A: Condo smoker, Columbus and tobacco 11/14/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 12:23pm]
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