SMOKING: HEALTH OR ATTITUDE?
May 24, 2013
In recent years we hear more and
more about fights among neighbors in regards to smoking. Our
society has created this health frenzy – putting smoking next to
I know my opinion will create a
lot of controversy, but maybe my European background makes me
feel different about these ideas about smoking.
I am in the moment in Germany,
the country where I grew up and where our teachers taught us
that America is the country of personal freedom – the Land of
I guess we really have to
rethink the idea of being the Land of the Free. Society has
changed and personal freedom has been put on the backburner. You
don’t want to smoke, fine with me! You don’t like second-hand
smoke – I have no problem with that. But when it comes to
telling neighbors that they can’t smoke in their own home I
really have a problem. If you claim that the smoke from the
neighbor’s cigarette is bothering you, please complain to the
guy who built your building, not the neighbor who smokes. Make
no mistake, if you can smell the neighbor’s cigarette smoke, you
can as well smell the cooking odors from the neighbor’s unit –
and some other unpleasant smells that maybe coming from the
bathroom. In my opinion it’s a sign that the builder cut corners
and sold you a cheap structure, not that the neighbor is leading
a life not to your liking.
So, you want to tell the
neighbor he/she can’t smoke in their own home? What’s next?
Telling your neighbors that they can’t cook with garlic or
exotic spices, like curry?
It’s time that people start to
realize that we have to leave other people alone. Who do we
think we are telling everybody else how to live their lives?
Make no mistake: This life-style
issue has gone totally overboard. I understand that unreasonable
noise is very disturbing and should be avoided, but what else
can we expect from our neighbors? That they adopt to our
lifestyle and only do what we like them to do?
Wouldn’t you agree that that is
really too much to ask for?
As much as I understand that
neighbors have to consider that they have neighbors close by, it
doesn’t mean that you should be able to tell neighbors how to
I’m in the moment in Europe,
where about 80% of the housing is in some sort of apartment
building. Lots of these buildings would be considered condos –
if the laws of European countries would allow community
Believe it or not, fighting over
pets, smoking or record access are more or less unknown. Yes,
there are fights over permanent barking dogs or bicycles parked
in the hallway. But there are no association law firms
specializing in neighborhood wars. Neighbors fight each other –
fair and square – without facing an association with deep
pockets. The realty firm managing the building will fall over
itself to give you any records you ever want, since there is an
ownership meeting (all owners are invited and have a right to
vote – even in writing – on all agenda items) once a year, where
the contract of the manager is up for renewal – and competition
Smoking maybe annoying – and so
can be the smell of smoke. But should anybody be allowed to
force his/her neighbors not to smoke in the privacy of their own
home? Try that in Europe – and most likely your neighbors would
call the doctors with the little white jackets. Here your home
is still considered to be your castle. And I think it’s time
that we turn the clock back to a time when that was still the
way of life in the Land of the Free!
Personally, I can understand
that people don’t want to move into condominiums. Why would I
like to live in a place where neighbors can decide how I can
live my life?