Monday, November 5, 2007
Life for smokers continues to get tougher in the United States. A growing number of localities are banning the practice of smoking in apartment buildings, as a way of ensuring that neighbors don’t have to put up with smoke wafting their way. Such laws have not been pursued as vigorously as bans against smoking in public places because the problem of second-hand smoke is obviously more acute in a place such as a bar or restaurant than it is through the walls of an apartment. But anti-smoking advocates argue with force that it is difficult to confine all smoke inside a single apartment unit. Indeed, there are instances of legal claims against apartment mangers under the federal Fair Housing Act, asserting that a failure to limit smoking is a failure to reasonably accommodate a smoking-sensitive handicap, pursuant to 42 U.S. Code sec. 3604(f).
Libertarians might suggest that the market could resolve this seeming clash of land use desires. For those persons who are unusually sensitive to second-hand smoke, landlords might attract them with advertisements that their buildings are smoke-free. For smokers, other landlords might attract them by imposing no limits on lighting up. But this is not the trend of our laws, at least in certain parts of the country, where the anti-smoking lobby appears to have the biggest clout.