Guest Column: Rockford should ban smoking in residential places

By John Russell Ghrist

For me and anyone else in the city who is affected by ignorant smokers who blow their toxic fumes on those who do not want to breathe this garbage, the city council should act. I have resided in one half of a duplex that I own for 12 years. My life is a quiet one. I work on my free-lance newspaper articles and write scripts for music shows for two volunteer public radio programs. I don’t bother anyone.

About a month ago, a couple moved in next door. They seemed like nice people, but I knew right away that there would be trouble. They smoke, and I quickly learned that they have no intention of quitting. The walls that separate the units are like cardboard. I listen to music with headphones on and keep my TV volume down, while they blast what they listen to. I can hear a baby cry, a dog barking, TVs and radios, and loud conversations, especially one-sided ones on their telephone. Every time they open a door or a cabinet, they slam it shut. I can even hear them snoring on the other side of the wall, from the desk where I write.

This place is just an apartment with two units. These people must smoke 24 hours a day. The toxic stench is getting into my unit through the walls, furnace vents and outlets. It would probably cost too much to renovate the place to stop the smoke from getting into my unit. They rent here and own a house someplace else, they told me, and probably don’t want that smell in their place or the activity of their cosmetics business there. Occasionally, vehicles come here that advertise their products and have signs on their doors and windows. Discarded cosmetics boxes are set out for the trash each week.

They receive business mail at this address. Product vehicles are even worked on in their garage. Sometimes, I hear a machine operating, and there’s often a perfume smell that comes in with the smoke. I can see boxes and shelves in their garage. I am not a busybody, but can easily tell that there is clearly a business going on next door. Aren’t there laws against operating a store or a warehouse in a residential area?

I smell the odor of perfume from the numerous boxes of products that are delivered to their door. That smell comes through the walls, too. I am sure that this odor is getting into my clothes, books, records and other things. I have already delivered a couple of holiday gifts early because I did not want the smell of smoke on them. I have been here for a long time, and my life’s work is in my unit. It is getting all smoked up along with my lungs. The inside air here seems totally polluted. The smell in their place must be 100 percent cigarette stench that their baby is also breathing. If they don’t stop smoking for that young child, they will not cease for me either. I am awakened every morning between 4 and 5 with burning eyes and a choking cough. A new day of smoking has begun, which is intensified when my furnace comes on.

When they first moved in, the man was smoking. I told them that would be a problem. He tried to hide his cigarette behind his back, but I smelled it right away. A few days later, I met the lady out in the driveway and told her that their smoking was bothering me. Her reply was, “That’s part of sharing a building, I’m not going to quit.” I then replied that I was going to call the health department, and her reply was, “You do that!” Since then, I have noticed that a cosmetics store has opened nearby in a strip mall. I do not know the connection between the problems next door to me and that store.

If I am out for a short time, the stench hits me right in the face when I return. The smoke burns my eyes and makes my chest hurt … I have been coughing, my voice is changing, and there is lots of phlegm in my throat now. I taste dirt in my mouth all day. To deal with the problem, I have two fans going, an air purifier and the window open. The utility bills are going up, since the furnace runs constantly, and the heated air needed to keep this place warm in the winter goes right out the window. These people are causing me this wasteful expense. At night, I now have to shut the window because it is just too cold outside. I wear a coat around in my unit and sleep wrapped in a robe and a bunch of blankets.

No one should have to live this way. When it was warmer, they would cook outside, the barbecue smoke would go right into my back window, and they couldn’t care less.

Health educators from the State Department of Health, the Winnebago County Health Department, the American Cancer Society, and the Respiratory Association have sent me numerous brochures about the dangers of breathing secondhand smoke. Last year, 65,000 people died from breathing it. It is the No. 1 preventable act that people can do for better health. It causes asthma in children Third-hand smoke lowers property value because it gets into carpets, drapes and walls. It costs more to clean it when smokers move, and it really never goes away. Air purifiers only remove the smell and not the toxins. Nearly 100 cancer-causing chemicals are in cigarette smoke. When I leave, I still smell it on my clothes.

The brochures also outlined guidelines where affected tenants can sue to recover moving expenses. When I have finally figured out that there is no way to win, I’ll give up and move before my health is severely compromised. It really stinks here.

I have spoken with the condo association president and sent letters to the other residents. The president said that there was nothing he could do. He was also sent some of the above-mentioned brochures by the respiratory people. There was no reaction from the other tenants. No one seems to care about this health hazard.

One brochure says that there are 18 percent fewer smokers now because the message has gotten through to some that smoking is dangerous and costly. I have not seen this, and it makes the smokers left more of a nuisance with their selfishness and the way they litter, too.

I have also discussed this problem with Rockford Ald. Tom McNamara, who urged me to stay after the condo association. He stated that it was much easier to convince condo owners to change their bylaws than convince 16 city council members to act. Some of the tenants here are renters, and the person who owns many of the adjoining units is also a smoker. The health educators say there is nothing they can really do because the anti-smoking regulations only pertain to public and business places. It is a bit flimsy, but a business appears to be operating in the next unit where the smokers are. They want me to be the poster boy for fighting this. I am just one person who is fed up with breathing this garbage. I have a family, too, lifelong goals, I play ball, have written several history books, etc. I don’t want to die from lung cancer and shorten my life because of someone else’s ignorance.

The media does not seem interested in this, but it is a real health concern, and there is good evidence about the dangers of smoking and those affected by it. The city council and state should amend their ordinances about smoking. There are no constitutional rights for smokers. If what they choose to do bothers other people, they should be made to stop it. No warnings on cigarette packages or high prices are going to stop people from smoking. Laws are needed to protect nonsmokers.

CVS drug stores no longer sell cigarettes but do sell anti-smoking aids. There is other help available to smokers wanting to quit. The people next door don’t care about the conditions that they have made me live under. Someone could show them the burned-out charcoal-lined lungs of a cadaver who was a lifelong smoker, and it would not matter to them.

Sometimes the smoke gets so bad that I have to stay the night elsewhere. People say that I should just move and let these arrogant people have their way. But why should I have to move? I’m retired and would have to pay lots more to live somewhere else. I’ve been here 12 years, and they have been here for a little over a month. All of my resource materials are here. I just wonder if there are others like me who are totally fed up with smelling stale cigarette smoke from disgusting neighbors or other tenants and do not know what to do about this. Or they feel trapped and are stuck breathing this costly, daily dose of toxic garbage blowing in their faces 24 hours a day? Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would want to stick burning garbage in their mouths, pollute their lungs, or endanger the lives of others. I don’t know the science of addiction that has lined the pockets of tobacco companies for all these years. I don’t understand the “satisfaction” that a person receives from charging nearly $100 for a carton of cigarettes at a gas station and seeming their money “go up in smoke.” This is apparently a city of smokers, and nothing is going to be done until we’re all dead of lung cancer or heart disease. I’ll then move before that happens to me. The sad thing then is that dead or alive, the smokers win.

John Russell Ghrist is a Rockford resident.

From the Dec. 17-23, 2014, issue

18 thoughts on “Guest Column: Rockford should ban smoking in residential places

  • December 17, 2014 at 4:19 am
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    It sounds like your building lacks the firewall required between units.

  • December 17, 2014 at 6:32 pm
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    Editor’s note: This comment has been edited for inappropriate language.
    Dear John, If the smoke smell comes through the wall,s at your apt.that easy you might start looking for a new apt. . Did you ever that your smell,s might be entering their apt? (gas ,poop smells, B. o.) Think before you [complain].

  • December 18, 2014 at 4:50 pm
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    If smoking is that offensive to John he should make living in a smoke-free apartment a priority. It sounds like he wants to control everything about his neighbors. I’m glad I live in a country where my neighbor can live pretty much the way he wants to and that means I can to. Merry Xmas!

  • December 20, 2014 at 2:41 am
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    This letter was high point of my month. I still chuckle when I even think about it. I’m sure if his building became smoke free next week, he’d be complaining about something else the week after. I’m glad as hell he’s not my neighbor.

  • December 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm
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    I expected these kinds of comments. For one thing, no smells come from my place and nothing can be as bad as stale cigarette smoke 24 yours a day. No one has to right to smoke, and it is a proven dangerous habit that bothers everyone plus lowering property values. Most people are not complaining about this, because no one is blowing toxic stench into their face 24 hours a day and stinking up their stuff. I do have a letter from my doctor now that says that after being examined, I am allergic to this garbage and it causes my eyes and throat to burn. Yes, I should move, but why should I pay more in rent just so a bunch of people can pursue their filthy habit? I have not heard from others bothered by this problem….and moving will be necessary. I’ll leave behind many hours of good volunteer service in this city chased out by ignorant smokers….I’ll leave before I catch lung cancer..

    • January 15, 2015 at 5:57 pm
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      WOW john it sounds like you have bad neighbors, let’s take a look.
      Yes the do have the RIGHT to smoke.
      Yep they smoke all right, I bet that was one of the reasons they moved here, some landlords do not allow the tenants to smoke but theirs did.
      Working on “Company Vehicles “in the driveway? No I think it was their daughters car who is a single parent working full time with 2 children, I put in a water pump and did the front brakes. I was done in 1 day. And as I recall I was in garage not the driveway. I do check the oil and fluids when the car is in the drive way. Opps my secret is out, I am the nasty neighbor. I am not going to sit here and nit pick your whole letter but you are out and our lying on some things. You can’t smell perfume from boxes, and we do not run a business from here, my wife does work for a national known company, hint Ding Dong someone is calling. We don’t even have a dog and our cabinets are self closing I am not sure I could slam them if I wanted to
      Anyway I am sorry the smell of the smoke bothers you, but you had the building and zoning guy come in so we know that SMOKE is not getting over there. oh did he mention that part I am not sure. I do remember you telling me to quit using my grill too because the smoke bothers you. So it isn’t really just cigarettes is it John? We don’t listen to loud music, have parties or drink, I do listen to NPR, sometimes the same station you are on. I don’t think you are much of a people person John, when you live in multi family dwellings you need to take the good with the bad. And I know when our TV is too loud because you bang on the wall and scream TURN IT DOWN. . You listen to our phone conversations? What are you doing standing next to the shared wall with a cup against your ear? If the glass starts bothering your head let me know, we will talk louder so you can get every word.

      Thank You for your time
      Terry, mean guy next store.
      I do apologize to the Rockford people that have to listen to all the drama.
      P.S. The former tenant has passed because she was an older person, and can’t defend herself, but you are the ONLY person I have ever heard complain about her too.

  • December 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm
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    Unfortunately people have a right to yellow fingers, yellow teeth, bad breath, stinky hair and respiratory disease.

  • January 16, 2015 at 10:22 am
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    John,

    First off you are not achieving anything by writing this article. There is something called constitutional rights, and as long as the abiding association allows smoking, stop complaining. If anything, by doing this you only pose yourself as an ignorant narcissist, that must complain about everything. If these situations REALLY mattered to you, you would take the initiative to move away from your so-called “problem”.

  • January 17, 2015 at 4:40 pm
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    More response to bad neighbors- 1-17-15
    I guess it is my turn to respond to this controversy now.
    First, no one has ever come into my unit to smell just how bad this stale, toxic and strong, the cigarette odor really is in my place. I don’t know who my neighbors spoke with or what inspectors came to their place. Maybe they were not smoking that day? But it seems like they must sleep with cigarettes in their mouths at night. The odor resembles the smell one would find in an old bar or bowling alley. It burns my eyes, throat and makes me cough. My doctor has verified this. Want to see the letter? The smell can even be sensed coming out of their back window. Their unit must contain 100 per cent cigarette smoke and total air pollution. They both had cigarettes the day I met them and the smell comes in my unit.
    I have invited the city and the media to come over to smell this garbage. I have nothing to hide, but none of them will check out my place. This is the first mistake I made. I listened to a bunch of overpaid bureaucrats in the state and county health departments who told me that I could help change the anti-smoking ordinances in this city. They do nothing but pass out brochures. The people who run this city aren’t interested. In fact, no one is concerned unless this cancer causing stench is blowing in their face 24 hours a day. The condo association won’t do anything about it either.
    Next the walls are cardboard thin between these units. I hear a baby cry in there and a dog barking at times. I expect that. One of these people talks so loud, I can hear them carrying on a phone conversation. I don’t listen into what they are saying and could care less about their business. I do smell the odor of the perfume that they are selling coming in with the smoke.
    I could put up with anything except the smoke. As far as pounding on their walls…I have done it only once and that night their TV set was so loud it was rumbling the walls. When the lady told me “this is part of sharing a building and that she was not going to quit smoking,” I figured that speaking with them any further would be a waste of time. I tried to forget that one day when their kids banged on my windows and doors and woke me up. When they realized that they were at the wrong place, they still did not apologize.
    I know that these people go to bed early, and I find myself tip toeing up and down stairs trying to be quiet. But yet, they make all the noise that they want all day long… I’m a night person, and my life has been reduced to living in my two upstairs rooms protected by an air purifier, the windows open and the heat turned off. The furnace brings in more toxic smells from their unit.
    As far as blasting music in their garage, it is some noise and not the station that I have had a volunteer radio program at for 15 years. It was so loud I could hear the call letters….Their response certainly needs some clarifications.
    This is clearly a case of two neighbors who are not getting along. They came here and brought with them their lifestyle. They don’t care that I am a quiet person and would have been a good neighbor. Now I am in the process of boxing up 15 years of my life, music library and equipment to leave before they give me lung cancer.
    You folks win…I have also learned that the city, media and the health department does not care about this issue. And by the way, where is it in the constitution that people have the right to smoke? Less than 1-4 smoke now but no one else is concerned about this until the smoke blows into their faces.
    John Russell Ghrist

    • January 19, 2015 at 3:46 pm
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      As a convicted felon, I got used to the smell of cigarette smoke while “in the joint”. Having been released from jail after 16 years at a maximum security facility I have had a hard time adjusting to life in the real world. My shrink has diagnosed me as having PTSD and the only thing that calms me down is some Black Betty on the radio and a couple of squares after a night of heavy drinking at the bar.

      If it wasn’t for that sweet, sweet smell I would be jobless and living on the street in a dumpster, or even worse, living in a cardboard box. Do you know how hard it is to smoke in a cardboard box? Those things go up in flames faster then a Ford Pinto.

      Having recently moved to the Rockford area I’m happy that they allow smoking indoors, just like they do in the joint. Speaking of joints, I hope the state of Illinois will allow us to smoke some of that Mary-Jane indoors soon too.

  • January 19, 2015 at 2:43 pm
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    John,
    I did not know one of the kids went to your house by mistake, by god that must have been awful getting up answering the door helping someone who needed directions. I am begging for forgiveness for their unthoughtful behavior.
    We have NO dog, we don’t make or sell anything out of the house, and we don’t sleep with cigarettes hanging in our mouths. We are just a couple of older normal people who work, go home watch one maybe two TV shows and go to bed. Wake up in the morning and do it all over again.
    Once in a while one of the kids will come by on the weekend, we have dinner, play back Alley Bridge, and smoke our Marlboro’s and laugh a lot.
    I think the two biggest problems are the crappy wall the separates the units, and our side was empty for so many years it was like having your own house and you have forgotten what it is like to have neighbors. I will be sorry to see you go, when we first met I thought we might have some stuff in common and would become friends. (I wasn’t HIDING my cigarette I was making sure the smoke wasn’t going in your face) we were in our driveway, why would I hide my cigarette?
    Anyway, if you need help packing up or something please let me know

    Terry

  • January 20, 2015 at 6:17 am
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    John
    This will probably be the last time I communicate with you via the newspaper. This is all kind of new to me, I have never had a neighbor that I could not get along with, let alone one that waves back at me and the whole time has been writing bad things about me in the newspaper. If you want to talk I live next store. No I am not going to quit smoking anytime soon. Although we have been talking about it.
    I don’t have to sit here and justify what I am doing on the other side of the wall. I am not doing anything illegal, but for your state of mind I think I might have figured out the “perfume” smell. I have been cleaning grout with full strength Mr. Clean with Fabreze, because of my knees I can only do a little section at a time, so maybe that is it
    One thing you said last time kind of bothers me, you said something about smoke smell out our window. Are those your tracks in the snow around our side of the house? I thought it was a meter reader that couldn’t find the meter. Our youngest daughter is staying with us until we find her a safe place of her own that is close. Her husband has been deployed and we did not want her in another state all by herself. Please don’t let me catch you hanging around our windows.
    Like I said I have never had anything like this happen before and I will admit it was a little fun blasting each other in the newspaper, but now that you might be coming around to our side of the house and peeking in our windows it is getting a little creepy. I was kind of wondering how you knew what was being delivered to our door over there to begin with.
    OH all those “boxes” in the garage, we spent the money to put up heavy duty shelving and store stuff there instead of renting a storage shed. We left a 6 bedroom 3 bath house to this small one and can’t really cram all our stuff in there. (Once again I don’t need to explain myself) but if you would of just come over and chatted you would have seen what was written on them and knew they were not a perfume companies boxes.

    I hope you get well quick John
    Terry your neighbor.

  • January 20, 2015 at 2:05 pm
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    This whole thing is starting to resemble two neighbors arguing over the back fence or a he said she said soap opera. But please allow me to make some final clarifications. Regarding an inspector visiting my neighbor’s house and not detecting abundant cigarette smoke, how could such a person not smell something so strong and toxic that is even coming out of their back windows? I called the city’s building inspector’s office. They told me that they do not come out to check for things like this. They also wanted my neighbors to provide the name of the inspector that supposedly said everything was OK over there. Hmmm. This story is suspect. The smell is so strong that it keeps coming into my unit even when they are not home. I even smell it in my garage and all of my stuff now stinks like smoke. I stood on my side of the patio and could smell the smoke without going on your property. It stinks that much….I smell it as soon as I enter my unit. It’s odor is that bad…
    Next, they asked their landlord if it was OK to smoke in their place. Of course the answer was yes. He smokes too and it’s his business to keep his units filled to make money. My neighbors told me that they own a house someplace else. I guess they are used to going there and making all the noise that they want. These duplexes are like apartments with a shared wall. No courtesy is being extended by them.
    Yes, I was used to things being quiet, and they are used to doing what they want. These duplexes are not houses and if I did something annoying to them they would certainly complain. The rest of the residents in these units have been silent because they have quiet neighbors who don’t practice this dirty filthy habit of smoking.
    It has been two weeks since I have had a decent night’s sleep. Every time the furnace comes on, waves of toxic smoke filled air comes into my unit. I wake up choking, coughing and am developing respiratory concerns and this is not an environmental problem?
    The health department, city and the media apparently are not interested in our issue or have not been reading our comments. So much for one TV station that says that it investigates matters like this… So much for all the non-smokers in this community who have set back and not supported me. So much for our do nothing city council and county health department who have also done nothing.
    What this comes down to is a building problem with defects that allows the smell of toxic cigarette smoke mixed with the perfumes that are sold next door to enter my place and make me sick. There are also limited anti-smoking laws in the state that allow a small minority to continue to practice their unhealthful habit and push it on the rest of us. In other words, if no one is blowing smoke in their faces, they don’t care. If people are fortunate to afford better housing, then they don’t have to put up with it either. Quitting smoking is the number one thing that people can do for better health, but not much can be done for folks who don’t want to quit.
    These people have painted me out to be some ogre who complains about everything. I am a quiet person who has done lots of good things in this community. All I wanted was a quiet, clean and affordable place to live which I had until these people moved in next door. According to them, I can stay here and be a nice neighbor as long as I continue to tolerate their awful smoking.
    The facts are all in. Some 65,000 people died last year in this country from smoke related diseases… Third hand smoke destroys property values and the smell will never leave carpets, drapes and walls. Lots of people benefit from the sale of tobacco products in this city, and unless a united stand is taken against smoking it will continue to kill people. Finally, I don’t need any help to move…I’ll leave quietly….before I catch lung cancer.

  • January 20, 2015 at 8:30 pm
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    John and readers,

    John is not alone in his problem or concerns regarding secondhand smoke in multi-unit properties.
    The American Lung Association offers tips and advice for:

    Tenants:
    http://www.lung.org/associations/states/illinois/advocacy/smokefreeillinois/housing/tenants.html

    Landlords:
    http://www.lung.org/associations/states/illinois/advocacy/smokefreeillinois/housing/landlords.html

    Public health officials:
    http://www.lung.org/associations/states/illinois/advocacy/smokefreeillinois/housing/advocates.html

    Also, while the Illinois Smoke Free Act is targeted at businesses, the law specifically states:

    “The General Assembly finds that tobacco smoke is a harmful and dangerous carcinogen to human beings and a hazard to public health. Secondhand tobacco smoke causes at least 65,000 deaths each year from heart disease and lung cancer according to the National Cancer Institute…”

    Also

    ” The General Assembly also finds that the United States Surgeon General’s 2006 report has determined that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke; the scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes serious diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, is massive and conclusive; separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate secondhand smoke exposure…”

    And

    “A June 30, 2005 ASHRAE position document on secondhand smoke concludes that, at present, the only means of eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to eliminate all smoking activity indoors…

    So, state government has already defined secondhand smoke as a nuisance. The state has not specifically address rental or other housing units, but it doesn’t have to. The state doesn’t have different laws about assaulting someone in a restaurant vs your apartment, so why would you need to create a separate nuisance law for work and home?

    John, get a savvy lawyer and pursue your nuisance complaint on these grounds.

    (410 ILCS 82/5)
    Sec. 5. Findings. The General Assembly finds that tobacco smoke is a harmful and dangerous carcinogen to human beings and a hazard to public health. Secondhand tobacco smoke causes at least 65,000 deaths each year from heart disease and lung cancer according to the National Cancer Institute. Secondhand tobacco smoke causes heart disease, stroke, cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low-birth-weight in infants, asthma and exacerbation of asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia in children and adults. Secondhand tobacco smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Illinois workers exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke are at increased risk of premature death. An estimated 2,900 Illinois citizens die each year from exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke.
    The General Assembly also finds that the United States Surgeon General’s 2006 report has determined that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke; the scientific evidence that secondhand smoke causes serious diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, is massive and conclusive; separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate secondhand smoke exposure; smoke-free workplace policies are effective in reducing secondhand smoke exposure; and smoke-free workplace policies do not have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry.
    The General Assembly also finds that the Environmental Protection Agency has determined that secondhand smoke cannot be reduced to safe levels in businesses by high rates of ventilation. Air cleaners, which are capable only of filtering the particulate matter and odors in smoke, do not eliminate the known toxins in secondhand smoke. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) bases its ventilation standards on totally smoke-free environments because it cannot determine a safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, which contains cancer-causing chemicals, and ASHRAE acknowledges that technology does not exist that can remove chemicals that cause cancer from the air. A June 30, 2005 ASHRAE position document on secondhand smoke concludes that, at present, the only means of eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to eliminate all smoking activity indoors.
    (Source: P.A. 95-17, eff. 1-1-08.)

  • January 22, 2015 at 3:56 pm
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    Frankly, I am surprised that this nice newspaper has let this trading of barbs or blog go on this long. But if they are really interested in environmental issues, this is one of them. Setting the record straight is important to me, and I don’t like being discredited in my community in these letters about your senseless smoking. So I’ll pause one more time, while I continue to pack and leave. I would like to thank Paul Gorski for his helpful comments. Yes, everyone but you know that smoking is a dirty habit that kills people. The state legislature even recognizes it as Paul pointed out but have not gotten around to cases like this yet. No, I did not prompt anyone to defend me in this issue. Reasonable people know that this is a big problem and I am at a distinct disadvantage here. I will take this last opportunity to answer the rest of your remarks.
    For one thing, I don’t need to look into your windows as you suggested, I never did and could care less about what you do in your place. You keep trying to discredit me to hide the fact that your smoking is the root of our problem. In another time and place we could have been good neighbors. The footprints in the snow outside your window are probably from the meter man. All I have to do is just sit in my half of the duplex to smell the odor of your cigarette smoke (which contains 200 cancer causing chemicals) coming into my side that taints my clothes and library. If I stand on my patio out back, I can smell that toxic stench coming out of your window that is just above me and over your unit. On your side of the fence, you have a barbecue that produces smoke that goes right into my window. Again, you will probably say that this problem is part of “sharing a building.” In other words, it is OK for you to do anything you want with no consideration for me. As far as the cigarette smoke coming out of your window, how could any “inspector” miss that? The guy who owns your place spent several months and lots of money with new furnishings and fresh paint and that’s all ruined now. That same smell is now threatening my health and stuff. Please allow me to pause for a moment…It is time to change the filter on my air purifier that provides me one room of deliverance from your cancer sticks. It helps reduce the odor, but does not remove the toxins.
    There is lots that you don’t know about me and if I choose to stay up late and work on my writing projects that’s my business. Therefore your family banging on the back patio window in the morning that is not the entrance to our places was quite startling that day. I have been here 12 years and everyone else comes to my side door. They obviously were at the wrong place.
    I had a discussion that you might be interested in with the county health department supervisor this week. He said that you can smoke in your place, something that you already know and are profusely doing 24 hours a day. You probably delight in exhaling your toxic smoke, knowing that it will enter my unit at some point. However, you can’t smoke in your place of business. He stated that he can only enforce the laws on the books. So if you decide to light up in your store, he will gladly write you up. But what is the difference here? I have the same rights that you have, only I want to breathe clean air. You can’t smoke out your customers, but you can legally do it to me.
    You stated that you never had a bad neighbor like me before in one of your postings. Well, you are used to living in your other house where what you do does not bother anyone that you do not share a wall with. We have thin cardboard common walls here. I hear your garage door going up and down at five each morning and you probably hear when I come and go. I have always been courteous to you especially late at night when you are sleeping and I am working. You should be glad that I am not playing loud music or bothering your TV reception. My work involves writing books and radio scripts. Those do not make any noise. The reason why I seem to know what is going on in your unit is because you have a loud lifestyle and there are more people in your unit. I don’t have to eavesdrop to know that. I don’t care what you do and it just comes right through the walls. Also you seem to be the aggressive business type that always gets what you want. I was not about to just sit in my unit and let you pollute my lungs and ruin my stuff without nicely telling you about it. When we met for the first time, I told you that I would smell your smoke, only I didn’t think that I would be dealing with total air pollution.
    The problem here is clearly a building situation. You stated that I have to put up with your smoking “because we are sharing a building.” None of the landlords are going to fix whatever allows your smoke to come in where I live. It gets worse when the furnace comes on. That’s why I keep it off even during the coldest nights and even leave a window open. That’s not very healthy either. You are not concerned that I wake up every morning and have to smell your burning garbage day after day. It is affecting my health and not yours because you are used to it and somehow enjoy it. My doctor backs up my claims that your smoking gives me a daily sore throat, burning eyes and chest congestion. Only noisy smokers will be interested in renting our units after we are gone.
    The health department guy says that it is up to the rest of the world to get our lazy politicians to tighten the anti-smoking laws to include residences. Then he says that he will be happy to enforce them. There is certainly something wrong here if you are allowed to smoke up my place and I am not a smoker and don’t want to smell it. There has been no consideration for my health here, except to move if I don’t like it. Now I am spending my time boxing up whatever is salvageable after your smoke has ruined everything and trying to get out of here. My life’s writings and work are in my unit. It will take more time and I cannot wait around for any legal issues to be resolved. As I have mentioned before you have won this round. No one else in this complex is complaining because they don’t have to breathe your smoke. In the meantime, let’s hope that you don’t leave your cancer causing smokes unattended which could cause a fire in this building. Most people detest your filthy and unhealthful habit, but I can’t do anything about it now but move and leave the area. It has become very clear to me that the only thing that matters to you is your next cigarette.

  • January 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm
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    I am really surprised that no one followed up on this who could have done something. The channel 13 (so called news leader) news department did nothing. This was after I sent them two news releases and personally at their request drove out there and brought them another copy. The other stations had no responses. Useless politicians did not respond. The health administrators say they can only enforce current laws. The end result is that 24 hours a day I have to smell this stench that is ruining my health and stuff. Am I just supposed to continue to breathe this cancer causing smoke and like it? I am packing to leave which seems unfair since I did not do anything wrong and was a good community worker. This was a good lesson in how little people care about others now.

    • February 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm
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      After you insulted, attacked and alienated the condo board, politicians neighbors, media and health agencies, you’re surprised at the lack of support?

  • February 4, 2015 at 8:30 pm
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    Just an update folks.. Yes, I am busy packing up my stuff and my work.
    There are times that I feel that I should not have to do this, but I want to breathe clean air.. People talk about their rights, but what about my right to not breathe toxic smoke everyday? There are two new pieces of information out now. Smoke Free America, says thar less than one in five people smoke now.. Second, the American Cancer Society came out this week with their latest report that says that lung cancer from smoking is the leading cause of death of women. I don’t think that there is any dispute that smoking is a dumb, dirty and disgusting habit that causes disease and death. As far as the condo association goes, they were given information on how to stop this, but they were not interested. It should also be noted that people who don’t have to breathe this toxic stench are not interested in this cause…Have it blown in your face, and have it wreck your stuff and see how you feel about it..??? I choose not to smoke and am leaving before I get lung cancer. My unit will only be fit for another smoker. Let’s see how that changes the property value?

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