How to Keep Smoke from Another Unit Out of my Apt.

    by

    Yes, this is another post complaining about cigarette smoke from a neighbor. I’ve read previous posts on this topic and, as this is obviously a touchy issue, I would like to try a different approach, if possible.

    I purchased a co-op that I (mostly) love in Park Slope a year ago. The building was built in 1920 and I am on the top floor. During the months before closing, one of the residents in the unit below mine was not around. Shortly after moving in, he returned and I learned for the first time that there was a chain smoker in the building and there is a significant amount of shared air between our units.

    The extremity and the frequency of the cigarette (and, occasionally less legal substances) smoke is beyond anything I could have imagined possible. Several times daily, it is as though there is someone smoking in the room with me. Mornings, my place smells like an ashtray. Sometimes I can smell the tobacco on my clothes even when I am outside of my apartment.

    I informed the president of the co-op who instructed me to take it up with the tenants, which I have done now many, many times. They are always very nice. Sometimes, the problem seems to get better for a short period (although it has never gone away). It always returns as bad as ever, prompting me to have yet another conversation that sometimes is somewhat effective, sometimes not.

    To try and fix the issue, I put in two additional layers of flooring. I sealed all the corners with expanding foam and/or caulk. I plugged the outlets. I even spent over $1100 on an air purifier specifically designed to address cigarette smoke. Needless to say, this continues to be a problem or I wouldn’t be writing here.

    To complicate this issue, I have also been getting severe headaches on a regular basis (3-4 a month, each lasting for a day or two). I cannot conclusively tie the headaches to the smoke, as I used to get about one of these headaches once every two or three years. Suddenly the headaches are a regular occurrence. A nurse told me that cigarette smoke can be a trigger for cluster headaches.

    I have spent many days in the bedroom to avoid the smoke in the living room and nights on the couch in the living room to avoid smoke in the bedroom. Twice, in desperation, I moved my mattress to the kitchen and slept there to get away from the smoke.

    Unfortunately, selling is not an option for me because of the state of the housing market and the building flip tax. Not to mention all the money I have already invested in this unit.

    Just writing this down here, the situation feels over-the-top, and at times it is. But nothing has been exaggerated or distorted. I would love any suggestions about regarding my options. What do the people on Brownstoner suggest? Is there something I have overlooked?

    81 Replies

    1. Some politicians are having a forum in Queens this week to teach people how to make their cooperative apartment complexes smoke free.

      ########http://tinyurl.com/########3zzck7k

    2. What I wish is that brownstoner would institute a system of voting comments up and down that might allow us to bury the random squabbling and name calling.

      As for the OP and exaggeration, I have a friend who has to leave the room if anyone is using dry erase markers. She’s crazy sensitive. The fact that no one else is bothered by it doesn’t make her life easier. On the flip side, I get horrible headaches from over-air freshened cabs. Presumably the dudes driving them all day don’t mind the chem-scent. People are different, is all I’m saying.

      I have some smoker friends who swear by these ventilating fans:

      http://www.amazon.com/Holmes-Twin-Window-Fan-HAWF2021-U/dp/B00008XET9/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1302014042&sr=8-11

      Read some reviews, but if he’s willing to work with you but not willing to quit smoking, you may be able to get him a good fan that will improve ventilation.

    3. It is clear you are going to have to move. For your health. I know someone who developed an autoimmune disease while living with the same problem. My point is that the headaches can trigger a syndrome, and may not go away once you start living smoke free, after a long time of living with them and the smoke. You need to start living smoke-free now – rent out your place (to a smoker, or to someone not bothered by smoke), sleep at a friend’s place and use your home as a storage facility for your stuff for now, or rent a room in an apartment somewhere – your health is too important to just go on living there.

      Simultaneously, address the problem. You’ve got lots of good ideas here – from more filtering in your apartment, to also closing off holes and filtering in the smoker’s apartment. I doubt this person can smoke outside all the time if they are a chain smoker – because they smoke practically every waking minute. I doubt that any of this will make enough of a difference to someone who is sensitive to/affected by smoke, but hey, it is worth a try.

      Next, see if you can get the board to seriously address the problem. Before you do so, decide if it wouldn’t be better to just sell first. Once you get the board to address it, it is in the minutes, and many potential buyers (unless they are smokers) will be put off, and you will be unable to sell. See what you can get the board to do. If you can’t get them to address it satisfactorily, maybe you can get them to forgo the flip tax, due to their unwillingness to do their job and insure that your apartment is habitable. Use an attorney for this.

      The law is changing rapidly in this area, ever since second hand smoke was found to cause cancer, not just asthma and other respiratory disease in non-smokers. You need to talk to an attorney about taking legal action to get the board to deal with the issue ASAP. Make sure the attorney helps you map out a strategy first, that will start not with a suit but with letting them know you are serious about demanding that they address the problem. You should also talk with your attorney about what possible effect legal action against the tenant could have. Your chances of getting action on smoke are greater now than any other time, due to the recognition of its harm to others, finally. Good luck.

    4. Smoking is a disgusting nasty habit, and a non-smoker’s health should not be compromised by second hand smoke.

      The person should go outside to smoke or get some type of ventilation system for his apartment. There was a case similar to this at a Manhattan coop a few years ago. The non-smoker took the smoker to court. I don’t exactly remember the outcome, but I think the judge ordered the smoker to install some type of ventilation system.

    5. Really can’t do much legally to RS tenants. But it’s worth a try. You can’t continue living there. It’s dangerous to your health.

      Just another example of how the stinky RS system hurts us all, not just owners of RS apartments.

    6. In the words of Stephen King: “Anyone can quit smoking, it takes a real man to face lung cancer”. He said that on the Dick Cavett Show many years ago.

    7. This may not be the coop’s board first time at this rodeo. If OP can find reference to the problem in the minutes, or proof that the seller, smoker, or board colluded to hide this problem, well…..

    8. Second and third hand smoke is not just a “smell.” It is carcinogenic and addictive. The OP is getting more smoke in his/her apt than the others because his/her apt is directly above the smoker’s and smoke travels up.

      The smoker has the right to smoke in his/her apt. The OP has a right to live in a smoke-free apt. These two rights are in conflict.

      I agree that OP is going to have appeal to the board to resolve this. It may not be resolvable. But let the smoker work on it. If it doesn’t work, can OP rent the apartment? To a smoker?

    9. I used to smoke. I Loved/Love smoking. I never realized how much I stunk until I quit. I smell it on customers when they come in and sit by my desk. Yeah, it’s pretty raunchy but I deal with it. I still love the smell of someone sparking up a fresh one.

    10. To gaberhodes:
      Can I suggest a well placed (slightly out of reach) battery operated fire alarm for the hallway? It will wake your children and your family up when it goes off, but it will probably scare away the smoker.

    11. Your situation sounds terrible and i wish you good luck.

      One idea – if the smoker is not the owner of the unit where he lives, try addressing the owner directly. If the smoker is renting, you could perhaps get the owner to break his lease, even if you need to offer a cash incentive. The board may push in that direction too as it is clear everyone will benefit. In that case you may campaign to amend the documents to prevent smoking inside the building.

      I would also ask him to consider smoking outdoors, you say he is usually nice so he may comply especially since it’s almost spring. Perhaps if you explain to him how severely you are affected by the smoke he’ll let you inside the apartment. There might be and obvious place (gap, crack, something) where a lot of the smoke is filtering through. You could insist on having it fixed, even offering to take care of the whole thing (hire and pay someone to fix it.) Those other suggestions for filters might work too, but you’ll only know after you try them. I started having very frequent headaches/migraines years ago as I moved into a new house. I didn’t know the reason but after using a high end filter and humidifier 24/7 they subsided. So you may try that too.

      Otherwise I’d try more aggressive measures, starting with getting a lawyer involved.

      Good luck to you.

    12. Ignoring various agro posts, I had one more idea for the OP. The OP could have merely used the wrong term but if by calling the smoker a “tenant” it means he/she is not the owner of the apartment, the owner may be very unhappy their tenant is chainsmoking indoors in their property. The smoke will stain woodwork, walls and ceilings over time and getting the smell out takes special effort. Send a letter to the owner informing them of the situation. Perhaps their lease agreement with the tenant says no smoking.

    13. All this sanctimonious bs has me lusting for a cigarette more than I’ve wanted one in all the time since I quit.

    14. good god maly, where did I say chain smoking is a god given right. I just spelled out the difficulties associated with coop rules/regs and getting rid of undesirable actions.

    15. don’t forget about plugging holes in any ceiling light fixtures and above door / window frames. the floor cavities are connected to the wall cavities are connected ceiling cavities. Also weatherstrip your apt door so it’s sealed tight.

    16. saminthehood – I didn’t claim to be citing law – just copied a section and cited the cooperator article which talks about 235-b and the Poyck v. Bryant case.

      Before attempting to go legal OP can read further and/or consult an attorney on whether he’d be likely to prevail.

      The following are is citation of law – only web articles from law firms.
      http://www.nyrealestatelawblog.com/2006/10/say_no_to_secondhand_smoke_1.html

      and from another article –
      As to Cooperatives, the proprietary lease will most likely dictate what, if anything, can be done about a shareholder smoking in an apartment and smoke emanating from the smoker’s apartment into other apartments. Many proprietary leases contain a section which states that “The Lessee shall not permit or suffer any unreasonable noises or anything which will interfere with the rights of other lessees or unreasonably annoy them.’ Although not specifically directed at second-hand smoke and although there are virtually no reported cases applying such sections to same, this section would seem to be appropriate fodder for addressing a complaint as to second-hand smoke.

      Additionally, most proprietary leases contain a provision allowing for the termination of the lease on the basis of objectionable conduct repeated after notice. Certainly, the defining of smoking as objectionable conduct has not been placed before courts to date. However, with the adoption of appropriate procedures this may also prove an effect tool.
      http://www.fingerandfinger.com/articles/06.11.pdf

      Good luck.

    17. OP, you came here for advice but so far you are the most reasonable person in this entire thread. I hope your neighbor isn’t like DeLepp or Rob, thinking chain-smoking is a God-given, constitutional right, that you will remove that last cigarette out of his cold, dead hand. I wouldn’t bet on it though.
      A smoker is a dog-owner is a bicyclist is a driver: everybody thinks their poop doesn’t smell.
      I would do a few things inside your apartment: put some expanding foam in all the holes on your common walls with Mr. Smoky, like electrical sockets and cable/phone jacks. Check for air flows with a candle around the moldings and use silicone and a small painting knife. Invest in proper air filter (or 2.)

    18. A very difficult situation. Smoking, at the level OP describes, is a terrible, nearly unbreakable addiction. I say this as an ex-chain smoker born into a haze of second-hand smoke, who watched my mother smoke her last cigarette six weeks before she died at age almost 100. She tried and tried and tried to quit but never could. And there were only three assisted living places in the city that allowed smokers — probably none by now.

      That said, all sympathy to OP, who is quite clearly allergic to cigarette smoke in a terrible way. Such an allergy is very real — it happens to a lot of ex-smokers, especially ex-chain smokers, my husband among them. When he’s around cigarette smoke he has all the symptoms OP describes.

      I think that Invisible 9:41 got it about right. OP has to act on his/her own behalf, in the measured way Invisible describes. There is one other argument for the co-op board: fire. Most home fires are NOT caused by smokers, but smoking-related fires have a very high fatality rate. And of course a fire in the smoker’s apartment will affect the whole building. I think OP has to fight for a smoke-free building — and the smoker has to find some acceptable place to smoke, away from nonsmokers. That may sound unfair, but it may also help the smoker move to the next stage: locking himself in a rubber room for three weeks until the worst is over and then never lighting up again. It can be done. Millions have.

    19. I have the same problem except someone is smoking in our HALLWAY STAIRCASE. This is clearly illegal and I have been neighborly about it, posting signs asking them to stop, that the smoke is in our kids’ room, that it’s not legal, etc. But they tear the signs down. To add insult to injury, they leave their cigarette butts on the stairs. I’m on the condo board but when I complain of the issue, no one knows how to resolve it except to catch him red-handed (but he smokes sometime around 2-3AM and sitting in the hallway waiting for him to pop out in the middle of the night isn’t exactly appealing). Any ideas on how to fix this problem?

    20. people, we are not just talking about comfort/quality of life, which are indeed important issues and protected by the coop bylaws, etc. we are actually talking about serious health issues – the Gov couldn’t ever have banned perfume, or stinky food, or anything else from bars, restaurants, and other public spaces, etc – but they did bar smoking. WHY? because second hand smoke has been proven beyond a doubt to cause cancer, in big numbers.

      “Secondhand smoke is responsible for an estimated 3, 400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 deaths due to heart disease among non-smokers each year. SHS is also responsible for lower respiratory tract infections in an estimated 150,000 to 300,000 children each year.”

      http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/entertainment/tipsheet/secondhand-smoke

      http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/ETS

      this is a very serious and a very real problem.

    21. For breach of 235-b, you’ll need to show alot more than what OP posted. You’ll need, at least, a number of others to attest to the same level of disruption. (I hate when people cite to web articles for a statement of the law). It will be a losing battle. From what OP states, she is the only one who is having such a bad reaction – if the entire building felt equally strongly, the Board would take action. My SO cannot handle street noise when in the room facing that street, even though I, and others in the building, don’t have as strong a reaction. My friend cannot handle the noise from the neighbor’s yard, though others in the building facing the yard dont mind. We live in a city of millions. There will be smokers, dogs, little scampering children, piano players etc etc. If something bothers only a few, you just got to suck it up. Or leave.

    22. I didn’t see any undermining or overstepping the mark until rob joined in. Just sayin’.

    23. uh you might want to see a doctor about those headaches. that shit ain’t normal and might be something much more serious than second hand smoke inhalation. go now.

    24. “reasonable efforts”
      a broad phrase if I ever heard of one.

      sb, not a smoker or defender as I think it’s vile. But it’s a slippery slope.

    25. cmu – are you the woman in my office who sprays on perfume like its going to be outlawed tomorrow?

    26. cmu — a neighbor is stuffing towels under her door. doesn’t sound like OP is the only one having a problem here.

      yes, of course, OP could be lying about that, too — how would we know?

      in fact, the entire situation could be fictious. your point?

    27. I agree that the board should do something about it.
      More pressure from other shareholders would help. Certainly would expect the lady that puts towels by her door would want things sorted out.
      If the board is reluctant, I agree with the suggestions / comments of southbrooklyn and Bklynite.

    28. “i realize living in a densely populated city in a bldg with other people – it’s not all about me!!!”

      So far, this is the only post with which I disagree. It’s ALL about me.

    29. rob >such ridiculous hyperbole..

      For once I’m glad rob chipped in. Why are we (those of us who are not rabid anti-smokers, that is, not those of us who just think this is a problem to be solved) assuming OP is not exaggerating? I know plenty of people who react to smoke as worse than radioactivity, and cannot sympathize with them. I mean, people go crazy about perfume for christ’s sake.

    30. DeLepp — glad you’re not a member of my board. I would not care to have the pool of potential buyers of my own apartment limited to smokers!

    31. OP –
      Please ignore the nonsense from the defensive smoker posters. You’ve already made reasonable attempts to deal with it directly with the smoker tenant. Your next step is to go after the board re: § 235-b – warranty of habitability.

      “To comply with its duties under § 235-b, a co-op board must make reasonable efforts to eliminate or alleviate the hazardous condition, such as taking steps to prevent the neighbors from smoking in the hallway and elevators, taking preventive care to properly ventilate the neighbor’s unit so that the secondhand smoke does not seep into the tenant’s apartment and sealing cracks in smoking units. Some co-ops even banned smokers from buying into the building. If these remedial measures are ineffective, the co-op board may be within its rights to declare the smoking tenant in default.

      “If a co-op board fails to take these or similar measures, a tenant may ask a court to order the board to take steps to remedy the problem or to award a maintenance abatement, and the tenant may be entitled to legal fees.

      http://cooperator.com/articles/1724/1/QampA-Secondhand-Smoke/Page1.html

    32. What exactly is the reading comprehension problem everyone seems to be having???

      DeLepp — OP’s apartment IS in a pre-war building! You recommend speaking to the smoker — again, can you read? OP has, many times. Why would the coop get involved? Coop board members have a fiduciary responsibility to the corporation which certainly includes protecting the value of the corporation’s assets. A building that smells strongly of cigarettes is a building that no one will want to buy into. As I stated above, there are certainly already rules in place in the coop’s governing documents that would be applicable in this situation, and the board is legally obligated to enforce them.

    33. “dh — OP cannot “man up or move out” as explained. Under the current circumstances, as described, this apartment isn’t even saleable. Wonder if the seller specifically timed selling the place while the chain smoker was out of town, or only showed it when smoker was at work or something?”

      yeah – i wasn’t referring to the OP – i feel for them. i realize smoke smell for non-smokers is highly offensive.

      i’d try to talk to the guy, i feel most smokers have the same attitude as me, and don’t wanna bother anyone. is it possible he doesn’t know he’s making everyone uncomfortable?

    34. Why would a coop care if someone smokes? Why would they get involved when they probably have much bigger issues(as a treasurer of one I’ve got a list as long as sorrow).

      Act like an adult and speak to smoker, get board/shareholders to make smoking illegal per house rules(unlikely see above)or move to pre-war where you can open the GD window.

    35. dh — OP cannot “man up or move out” as explained. Under the current circumstances, as described, this apartment isn’t even saleable. Wonder if the seller specifically timed selling the place while the chain smoker was out of town, or only showed it when smoker was at work or something?

    36. quote:
      Most RS tenants do have a sense of entitlement!

      uh… and the denizens of new condos and musty old co-ops don’t? please..

      *rob*

    37. “Its true, the city is full of smokers, dog-poopers, aggressive car drivers, holier-than-thou-cyclists, geese-gassers and other undesireables. What ya gonna do.”

      man up or move out

    38. “Smoking is a choice not an entitlement”

      This is why I asked if smoker is a hold-over tenant (RS) and not an owner. Most RS tenants do have a sense of entitlement! OP uses the word tenant to describe so there is confusion as to what type of resident he is. IMO that makes a huge difference in how to handle situation.

    39. Its true, the city is full of smokers, dog-poopers, aggressive car drivers, holier-than-thou-cyclists, geese-gassers and other undesireables. What ya gonna do.

    40. Just re-read your second post — I can’t believe the coop is tolerating this, as I’m surprised they don’t understand the impact on the value of their property. If you had smelled horrible smoke smells in the hallway when you were considering buying the apartment, would you have bought it???

    41. You, tradmod, are fatuous & self-satisfied, not qualities I admire in friends or neighbors.

    42. If things are as bad as you describe, and other owners are stuffing towels under their doors, etc., this is a serious issue for the coop as a whole.

      People can laud row houses all they like, but I believe, in fact, you have more power in this type of situation living in a coop than in a row house, because no one actually owns their own apartment (technically) — all are lessees and are bound by the proprietary lease and other governing documents. Your next door neighbor in a row house can tell you to eff off and good luck getting anybody (ie the City) to intervene in that situation. In a coop, there are legal documents governing lessees behavior insofar as it affects other lessees in the building.

      You should ask to present the situation at the next board meeting and request the board’s plan of action to solve the problem. It is the board’s responsibility to uphold the governing documents of the corporation.

      If the board refuses to uphold the rules (and I am 100% certain there are rules in the governing documents that would be applicable in this situation), then I would find a lawyer to sue to board.

      It sounds as if you have been very neighborly, friendly, etc., to no avail. Time to become more aggressive.

    43. “Smoking is a choice not an entitlement. Which I myself was always conscious of as a smoker. ”

      so is cooking stinky food – which my neighbors frequently do and the odors drift into my apartment, which i find annoying.

      but i realize living in a densely populated city in a bldg with other people – it’s not all about me!!!

      waaaaaaah

    44. A man’s home is his castle – it’s a basic tenet of civil law. That you chose to go elsewhere is your privilege but enjoyment of one’s demesne isn’t regulated by anyone else.

    45. I think they were probably glad you left, Arkady. Co-ownership requires being considerate of others. Otherwise the whole thing breaks down.

    46. I smoked in my 20’s, Arkady and NEVER ever ever at that time did I chainsmoke indoors in my apartment, knowing it would bother others. Smoking is a choice not an entitlement. Which I myself was always conscious of as a smoker.

    47. the smoker in question here was doing the right thing, and going outside to smoke. sounds like they were trying to be considerate of others and it wasn’t until they were forced back into the apartment by the president of the co-op, making it everyone elses problem.

      i really question if smoke was getting into the president’s apartment from outside – he probably just doesn’t want someone loitering infront of his place on a regular basis.

    48. Tradmod – Having been in a co-op myself, you are precisely the kind of shareholder you’re describing & who determined my decision to move out.

    49. Is this some way to increase posting counts?

      Traditionalmod, the courts have already taken up the issue, by no way is it against the law to smoke in a coop.

      If it’s not on prop lease the above doesn’t have a right.

    50. You know this thread isn’t all about you personally, right Rob? Just checking.

    51. ” if they wish to chainsmoke, they must hermetically seal their own apartment at their own expense”
      ” you absolutely SHOULD have asked for the tenant not to smoke in his apartment”
      I’m an ex-smoker & I think invisible & traditionalmod way overstep the mark. The OP seems to be a reasonable person & you all are undermining his or her neighborly approach to a difficult situation.

    52. i have never lived in an apartment, EVER, where i can smell food inside my apartment from another apartment. in the halls, yeah, but not in the apartment, that’s just absurd, or you just live in cheap ass flimsy housing.

      *rob*

    53. Rob’s nasal epithelia were long ago massacred by smoking, so he’ll always be nonplussed that others can be so sensitive to the smell.

      I suggest you move out.

    54. food smells are just disgusting and often make people sick too.

      some people can smell babies dirty ass diapers three stories below or above.

      can we please ban cooking and babies?

      *rob*

    55. Shut it, Rob. Once again you contribute nothing.

      We have a HOUSE and I get smoke smell right through the WALL from our neighbor’s house. Anybody who lives in NYC smells how cooking smells travel through vents and gaps in walls from apt to apt. Why wouldn’t smoke??? Ask yourself that big complicated question.

    56. As a smoker and previous resident of old leaky bldgs, I’ve found having a cheap air purifier on and the window cracked while smoking really cuts down on the smoke smell. There are also these things you can slide under the gap in the front door to make it more air tight, and prevent odors from escaping/entering apartments.

    57. It’s a co-op btw, Invisible, not condo. Even worse!

      This part illustrates the real problem:
      “…the co-op president told me he told the smoker not to smoke on the stoop because the smoke was entering his (first floor) unit. This happened days before I made my first official complaint on the matter. The president cited this as a reason he couldn’t tell this man not to smoke in his apartment (which I never asked for)”

      It’s what we experienced owning a co-op apartment too. It can be very cliquey and political when you have a board that looks out after their own individual interests first and foremost.

      Number one, you absolutely SHOULD have asked for the tenant not to smoke in his apartment. If it’s not a rule already and I’m sure it is, it’s completely typical for co-op buildings in NYC not to allow smoking indoors. They just overlook it if it doesn’t bother anyone but this guy does bother others. OP, hire a lawyer today, now, and have the lawyer communicate directly with the board from this moment on. It’s totally inappropriate for the co-op board to tell you, an owner and shareholder, to deal directly with another owner’s TENANT on this issue. Ridiculous. This kind of thing is what sent us into brownstone ownership and as much as a PITA it is at times when I hear stories like this I am deeply grateful to be out of the whole co-op building experience.

    58. You could print out your post and the responses and hand it to your neighbor, and explain to him how desperate you have become due to his smoking.

      Otherwise, you can wait until lung cancer strikes him.

    59. quote:
      Several times daily, it is as though there is someone smoking in the room with me. Mornings, my place smells like an ashtray. Sometimes I can smell the tobacco on my clothes even when I am outside of my apartment.

      such ridiculous hyperbole..

      *rob*

    60. ventilation in many buildings is abysmal, as you have found out. this situation is huge problem, and this is kind of a hot topic because everyone breathes everyone else’s air.

      apply pressure to the problem. the board is jacking you around. no one really wants to deal with other people’s problems. so you usually have to make it everyone’s problem.

      warranty of habitability. everything in writing. it can be respectful, referencing conversations you have had with the other unit owner as well as the board, but stressing how difficult basic life is for you. explain what you just wrote, sleeping in the kitchen on your mattress, how much you spent and did on our own behalf, who you approached in the building and the result.

      registered letters to the owner below as well as the board, craft it in a detailed and clear way. (no apologies btw) it doesn’t matter that you are new to the building or the person before you was able to deal with it. you seem like more than a reasonable person. perhaps a little too nice given the gravity of your situation.

      keep the copies of letters and return receipts (first letter use USPS, second letter use Fedex), and these documents will in turn will be referenced by your letter lawyer (yes, it will probably come to that, it takes a lot for a smoker to quit or sell)

      that letter from your lawyer (say, a month from now) will be the defining moment of how bad your situation is. everyone will need to believe you can take this as far as it needs to go.

      don’t take half assed attempts for a solution (yes, half-assed attempt is usually where these things end up “i’m trying to quit”, “i keep the windows open”…except when they don’t). keep fighting it. start nice and reasonable if you desire, but then have your lawyer take over so it doesn’t completely suck your soul.

      for the sale of all nice people out there, don’t back down and give up even f it gets nasty. you should not be stuck with the bill of a polluter, which is exactly what this is. if they wish to chainsmoke, they must hermetically seal their own apartment at their own expense.

      oh, and welcome to condo living. now you know why some of us buy brownstones!

    61. To answer some of the questions…

      Yes, this impacts other residents in the building, but not to the same degree. The air outside of this apartment is similar to the air in my apartment. In fact, when I pass the apartment I can get a pretty accurate gauge as to how bad it will be when I get inside my apartment. The resident who lives next door to this person puts towels to line her front door to block the air out. The resident below the smoker says she smells it in her apartment but only infrequently — she is interested in making this a smoke free building, but is currently in the process of selling her unit. The co-op president smells it in the stairwell.

      Another interesting part of this was the co-op president told me he told the smoker not to smoke on the stoop because the smoke was entering his (first floor) unit. This happened days before I made my first official complaint on the matter. The president cited this as a reason he couldn’t tell this man not to smoke in his apartment (which I never asked for)

    62. You could look into some kind of ventilation system that introduces outside air into your apartment. If you increase the air pressure in your apartment to will keep air from other parts of the building from infiltrating, kind of like the way pressurized emergency exit stairwells work. You would definitely have to bring in an HVAC contractor.

    63. Isn’t a warrant of habitability in force? Read your cooperators’ binding document – I don’t remember what they are called, as I never lived in a co-op, but I do recall, when we lived in a condo apartment and had the worst.neighbor.ever living above us, how we tried and tried to deal with it one-on-one with her…..it was only after we sold our apt. and bought a house that I learned about the warrant of habitability, which essentially guarantees your right to live in your apartment without being infringed upon by your neighbor. It’s a legal principle which takes it out of the realm of him vs. you and frames it in a more enforceable way.

      Best of luck.

    64. I am curious to know if other residents in the building and the common areas are also affected by the ciggy smoke. One would think so if the smell is as bad as you say. Have you spoken to other residents in the building aside from co-op prez? This is a major quality of life issue and it affects your health. But it’s not illegal for that guy to smoke in there. Honestly my suggestion is to rent out your apt if you can. If it’s truly that bad, you should leave.

    65. Its best you continue to find ways to purify the air in your unit you should install a duct exhaust system in your apartment.

    66. I would go to the smoker and the coop board and say..

      Listen, I dont mean to be a pain but it’s affecting my health so I dont have a choice. Therefore I’m going to push the issue. Let’s try to work it out.

    67. As a non-smoker who worked in bars before the ban, most places used electrostatic smoke eaters with washable filters mounted on the ceiling. I’m guessing the demand for these things has drastically fallen off the cliff in NYC. I remember they were not cheap, but they do make versions for bars/hospitals that remove both the particles and odor. In the several bars I worked in the owners ended up having to rent the apartment above because of complaints about the smoke by tenants.

    68. Wait just a minute. You spent ELEVEN THOUSAND DOLLARS on a frickin’ air purifier?! You probably could have paid your neighbor to quit for 5k. You need to be medicated.

    69. We had that issue with our next door neighbors so we installed overhead fans to circulate the air in our apartment that are on almost all the time and we keep the windows open as much as possible. It does help a lot and works better than our air filter. And, I would bet your headaches are from the smoke. I agree with Arkady about offering to buy the person an air filter. That would help.