According to the 2014 West Virginia Adult Tobacco Survey, 76.0% of WV adults reported that smoking is never allowed anywhere inside their home. Unfortunately, for residents of apartments and other multi-unit housing, the decision to have a smoke-free home is not theirs alone. Secondhand smoke drifts from neighboring apartments and creates unhealthy living conditions for everyone in the building. In multi-unit dwellings that share common walls, drifting secondhand smoke can be a serious health concern for many tenants. The 2006 Surgeon General's Report reaffirms that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.
If you are dealing with a neighbor's drifting secondhand smoke, you should know that you have the right to ask your landlord to protect you and your family. WV County Clean Indoor Air Regulations do prohibit smoking in common areas of multi-unit dwelling but not the individual units. However, you can work with your landlord and neighbors to adopt a smoke-free policy for your building.
The first steps to any resolution are to get informed about the issue. See the Tenants FAQ's Fact Sheet. It also helps to document your efforts and correspondence with management. The next step is to make sure the landlord and neighbor are aware of the problem. Not all landlords know that smoke free policies are legal. Provide educational materials and remind your landlord that it is not discriminatory to adopt a smoke-free policy. Even with an existing lease, a no-smoking lease addendum can be added. A written letter detailing the problem will greatly enhance the likelihood that your concerns will be taken seriously by your landlord. A letter from the attending physician attesting to the effect of the secondhand smoke on the tenant's health is also very helpful. Review your lease agreement or home owners' association regulation to see what additional rights and protection you may have. If informal attempts to resolve the dispute are unsuccessful, seeking legal solutions may be your next step.
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