Tap tap tap...

Quick question.

Can cigarette smoke travel through walls? Because either it can or it can't, and this angry woman has filed a lawsuit saying that her neighbor's cigarette smoke did in fact go through walls of her townhouse:

In an age when smoking has been outlawed in most public places - government buildings, bars and pool halls - a person's home is one of the few places you can puff in peace.

Until now.

A Dallas woman has filed a lawsuit seeking six figures from a former neighbor and landlord for damage she says was caused by cigarette smoke wafting through adjoining walls of her high-end townhome.

If smoke can "waft" through walls, then I would submit that something is very, very wrong with the construction of the walls, or of the home.

However, the townhouse community manager says there's a solid fire wall between the two homes:

A manager and attorney for Estancia Townhomes, a 52-building community near Prestonwood Country Club in North Dallas, said it's unlikely the Daniels sustained any smoke damage. There is a solid, two-hour fire wall from the foundation to the roof between each of the homes.

And even if some smell did seep through, the Daniels renewed their lease at Estancia - where smoking is permitted - six months after they say the problem began.

"Why do people file lawsuits?" asked Ginger Tye, an attorney representing the property managers and owners. "They're asking for money damages."

The next-door smoker, Rebecca Williams, declined comment.

Chris Daniel and her daughter, Cary, say in the lawsuit that a construction defect is allowing smoke to migrate between the units.

After a year of stinging eyes, breathing difficulty and sinus pain, they moved out of Estancia and into the Homewood Suites in Addison. Last week, movers wearing surgical masks loaded trucks with their belongings.

The Daniels said furniture will need to be reupholstered, artwork restored and closets full of clothing dry cleaned. The bills are still piling up.

So enough cigarette smoke wafted through solid fire walls to damage artwork?

I'm skeptical, and I find myself wondering if the plaintiff is highly, um, suggestible.

It wouldn't surprise me if she was. Years ago when I served on Berkeley's Police Review Commission, a woman brought a complaint against officers who had refused to arrest her landlord for attempted murder because he smoked in the building. Needless to say, her complaint was not upheld, but the usual anti-smoking activists sent in letters supporting her.

At the rate things are going, I expect that someone will try to have parents who smoke in front of their kids arrested for child abuse.

As I have said before, there is something that non-smokers who are outraged enough to support smoker's rights can easily and legally do.

Simply go out and buy a pack of cigarettes. They're expensive, but still legal to buy and own, even in places which criminalize smoking, but the neat thing here is that if you're a non-smoker you only need to buy one pack, to have months or years of fun. There is a right to carry in all fifty states.

So you just take your pack of cigarettes, and simply brandish it in public! Take it out and tap it on your hand, on a table, anywhere! That little "Tap tap tap!" is the sound of freedom, and it irritates the anti-smokers almost as much as the sound of a match being struck! Yes, striking matches is still legal in most places too. And so is taking out a single cigarette and tapping it. Sure, you can't smoke it, but if you're a non-smoker that's beside the point.

You're just exercising your First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

Where else can you have so much fun for a few bucks?

posted by Eric on 09.30.09 at 04:13 PM



I'm tempted to buy a pack to play with even though I don't smoke.

Dave Price   ·  September 30, 2009 6:42 PM

Government has actually made smoking more dangerous for me and my non-smoking husband. For years, our house was well-ventilated with ill-fitting windows and doors, as well as a non-insulated, but working attic fan.

Then, the government decided that because we live near an airport, our house qualified for sound-proofing. This was, of course, "voluntary" but not having it done would have reduced the relative value of our house tremendously.

Sound-proofing meant closing off all those ventilating "deficits" which allowed smoke (and carbon monoxide from gas appliances)to escape.

Now we have mold problems and a "stinky" house from cigarette smoke. Since the sound-proofing, we've bought a new stove, new hot water heater, and a new A/C heating unit. That's taken care of the carbon monoxide problem.

I've also stopped smoking in all but the one room that's equipped with an air purifier.

Of course I know I should stop smoking. I'm not stupid, but I am addicted. And I like smoking. Does that make any sense? Of course not. But, it's still legal. For now.

Donna B.   ·  September 30, 2009 7:08 PM

Some municipalities criminalize smoking in a car with a child present. Sarasota Co. in Florida bans (under penalty of law) smoking on the beaches. It also has instituted a policy that it will not hire smokers and all current smokers must quit either their jobs or their smoking.

The last, egregious as it seems, has been upheld by the FL Supreme Court as constitutional under the FL constitution.

Only two counties currently have this policy, but it's not hard to see which way the wind is blowing, with or without a smoke marker to tell you.

John Burgess   ·  September 30, 2009 7:23 PM


It's your choice... at least until the government decides you're costing the taxpayers too much money.

What are tobacco taxes at now? 1000%? Can we go for 10,000%?

TallDave   ·  September 30, 2009 8:33 PM

Are there actual published studies on the trade-off between smokers early deaths and higher costs to the health care system, or is it just 'common wisdom' that they cost more?

FL, in its smoker-friendly manner, jacked cigarette taxes $1/pk earlier this year, too.

John Burgess   ·  September 30, 2009 11:09 PM

I'm skeptical, and I find myself wondering if the plaintiff is highly, um, suggestible.

There's a damn plague of it.

A few months ago, I got a new next door neighbor, in an identical physical situation to the one in the story, and he came up with almost identical complaints, plus the claim that the imaginary smaller-than-air smoke I filled his world with was causing his insomnia.

He went to the management with his story, apparently several times, escalating its implausibility with each telling, until finally they came at me with it, and hard. Because there's a damn plague.

Appeals to physics and chemistry didn't get me anywhere, because it's not about that anymore, so I asked when his complaints had started, and suggested a likely date: the day after I'd noticed him notice me smoking on my balcony and start fake-choking about it. More than two months after he'd moved in. I was off by one day.

So I told them that I didn't appreciate their offering themselves up as a conduit through which this evidently deranged stalker type next door was harrassing me, and maybe they'd like tell him to fuck off, or maybe get sued. I got a new, non-crazy neighbor soon after.

Take no shit, smokers. It's too late. We're dealing with madness, because that's all that's left.

guy on internet   ·  September 30, 2009 11:38 PM

This is the direction I see this whole thing going:

They will keep cigarettes legal because the tax revenue is too lucrative to eliminate. They are more addicted to it than smokers are to nicotine.

They will keep demonizing cigarettes so they have Carte Blanche to raise the taxes any time they need more of their crack.

They will then use smoking as an excuse to deny medical benefits to certain segments of the population, thereby pocketing the tax revenue they made by mandating this same segment purchase the insurance they are now being denied.

Rinse and repeat with every thing they can turn into a vice.

Patrick in Des Moines   ·  October 1, 2009 10:06 AM

While I'm not a fan of the punitive anti-smoking crusade, I am also not a fan of people smoking around children, especially small ones that have no recourse. Smoking while pregnant and smoking in a confined space with an infant both cross the line into doing harm to others.

The above assumes that smoking while pregnant/around infants causes them some harm, of course.

Bolie Williams IV   ·  October 1, 2009 4:21 PM

This is an issue that I don't feel is truly a libertarian/freedom vs. statist one. If your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, I feel your rights as a smoker end where my clothes and hair begin (i.e., if being in the same room with your smoking makes my clothes and hair smell like smoke, you have exceeded the reach of your rights). Discounting those whose eyes, noses, and throats are irritated by exposure to cigarette smoke, there are people with asthma and smoke allergies who could become seriously ill by exposure to cigarette smoke in public places.

I like to think of an analogy. Let's say I enjoy the smell of gasoline. Not in huge quantities, mind you, just enough to give me that nice, happy feeling. I like to smell gasoline at home, or when I'm in the car, or after a nice meal at a restaurant. Should I be allowed to open my gasoline container at a restaurant where other patrons are eating, and will likely smell like gasoline after eating in the same room with me? Should I be allowed to sniff my gasoline in an enclosed car with my 2-year-old child in the back? Is it reasonable to expect me to smell my gasoline where it won't bother or affect other people? Is there any reason why I can't wait to sniff my gasoline until I'm on my way home from work, or until after I've left the restaurant?

John S.   ·  October 1, 2009 5:48 PM

Bolie Williams: That's why I'm in favor of places like restaurants having the right to decide--based on their own economic analysis--whether or not they should permit/ban smoking.

If they permit it and you don't like it, then you don't have to go. Plenty of other options out there, after all. If it happens to be the best restaurant in the city, then you've got to make a choice.

If I want to go to the best restaurant, which happens to ban smoking, then I've a choice... forego smoking to enjoy the meal or forego the meal.

What's not right is the state making my choices and your choices.

I won't argue much about smoke and kids. I've no problem if Chuckie Cheese stays non-smoking.

John Burgess   ·  October 1, 2009 7:02 PM

Most people who claim serious discomfort from cigarette smoke are just plain lying.

Brett   ·  October 2, 2009 7:56 AM

Well Bolie, your intolerance requires you to vacate property where smoking is occuring; it does not empower you to veto others' smoking.

When you concede that I can veto your pleasure travel--after all, what right do you have to spew air pollution for your personal pleasure?--I'll buy your argument.

Brett   ·  October 2, 2009 8:00 AM

You want to drive em go bat *&^% crazy? Pull out a cigar and don't light it. Their heads explode!

Ol' Whip   ·  October 2, 2009 10:55 AM

Brett, you're making an unfounded assertion based on your own presuppositions. Cigarette smoke is often extremely uncomfortable to non-smokers, even those who don't suffer serious and immediate side effects. I am a singer by training, and not only does somone smoking in the same room as me irritate my eyes, nose, and throat, there is also a notable difference in the quality of my singing (and speaking) voice after even a relatively short exposure to smoke (say, 15 minutes or so... certainly less than the time it takes to dine at a sit-down restaurant). Many smokers literally have no idea the effect their smoke has on the people around them.

John S.   ·  October 2, 2009 11:27 AM

Brett - Did you read my comment? I only objected to smoking around small children/fetuses if there is scientific evidence that such smoking harms them. Sure, adults can choose not to go into a restaurant where people are smoking. But a baby can't get out of the car where his mother is smoking. And if scientific evidence shows that smoking around small children actually harms them, then banning smoking around small children is no more intolerant than banning the beating of children.

You want to kill yourself, go right ahead. I draw the line at letting you kill your children, though.

Bolie Williams IV   ·  October 2, 2009 1:35 PM

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