The web links
in blue provide further helpful resources.
If you are suffering
from exposure to tobacco or marijuana smoke coming into your unit, you are not
alone! Colorado has no laws regulating
smoking inside an individual unit in multiunit residences. Colorado's Clean Indoor Air Act does require no-smoking policies in all indoor common areas
of any residential apartment building.
The following suggestions and information may help resolve the
problem. Nothing in this document should
be considered legal advice; please consult an attorney before pursuing legal
action. Contact your local tobacco-prevention program as they may be able to provide resources, referrals, or
assistance. Also see the More
Helpful Materials section of this web site.
1) Keep track of your actions: Track the steps you take to eliminate or reduce tobacco
smoke coming into your residence by writing down everything you do, say, or get
in writing. Use GASP’s tracking form.
where the smoke is coming from
Tobacco or marijuana smoke can migrate through ventilation
systems or come through plumbing-fixture gaps, baseboards, sprinkler heads,
light-fixture openings, plaster cracks, bathroom fans, and other unsealed
openings. Sealing the largest openings may help reduce the smoke coming
into a unit; however, these options may not eliminate the harm caused by breathing
secondhand smoke. No air-filtration device currently available can get all the
toxic or cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco or marijuana smoke out of the air.
Some activities often regulated or prohibited in a lease include
anything that may cause annoyance, irritation, or health problems to other
residents. Common examples are playing music too loudly, having
late-night parties, storing paint or other flammable materials, and others. Does your lease prohibit nuisances or activities
that limit “the peaceful enjoyment” in your dwelling? Such clauses in a lease may help achieve a
smoke-free policy. Condominiums and HOA rules may require a vote of the
majority of the owners and/or Board approval to institute a no-smoking
policy. GASP provides some
tips for condominiums
and HOAs here.
If you or others in your residence have a health condition such
as asthma, hay fever, allergies, cancer, or pulmonary or cardiac disease that makes
it necessary to avoid exposure to tobacco or marijuana smoke, obtain a letter
from a medical provider stating you should avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
due to your health problems. Once a letter is obtained from your doctor, send a
copy to the management by certified mail, return receipt requested. Even in cases where there is no recognized
medical condition, you may be able to obtain such a letter by talking to your medical
provider about how secondhand smoke affects you.
management or put it in writing
Discuss the problem with management to try to resolve the
problem. If that does not produce results, putting your
complaint in writing may help show management you are serious. Sending copies of your correspondence to your
local tobacco-prevention program may help. GASP has a sample letter-writing tool that could be used to communicate with management. Educate management
on how smoke-free policies reduce maintenance and cleanup costs, and reduce
fire danger. Most Coloradans do not smoke and prefer to live in a
smoke-free building. GASP’s Colorado Guide to Establishing No-Smoking Policies in Multiunit Housing may be helpful.
out others for support
A complaint coming from several people may be taken more
seriously than a complaint from one person.
Contact other neighbors, participate in resident meetings, write an
article for an apartment newsletter, or post notices on building bulletin
boards. Conducting resident surveys with
the consent of management may help convince management that most residents
support a smoke-free policy. Your local tobacco-prevention program may be able to provide assistance, resources, or referrals.
Share your experiences with elected
officials at the city, county, and state level and ask them to look into laws
to protect you from secondhand smoke in your dwelling.
Educate people about the dangers of secondhand smoke. People
who might not otherwise be concerned about tobacco of marijuana smoke may view
it quite differently if they know that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, and
heart disease, has 250 toxic and cancer-causing chemicals, and causes 50,000
deaths each year. In addition up to 50%
of the air in an apartment is recirculated. For more information about
secondhand tobacco smoke, visit the GASP Web siteand smokeissmoke.com for information about secondhand marijuana smoke.
Sometimes the best way to resolve this problem is to involve a
mediator or mediation services that will get all parties together to try to
resolve the issue. This will likely be
less costly than going to court. Some
communities or health departments may offer free mediation services. The Colorado Mediation Association provides an online system for finding paid mediators.
If it is possible to get out of the lease, then moving might be
considered as an option as it may be easier, take a lot less time, and be less
expensive than a lawsuit. If you move,
make sure your next place is a smoke-free building. Mysmokefreehousing.com provides a list of residential buildings that do not allow
smoking inside or on the entire property. Be sure to visit them first, review the lease
and building rules, and talk to the residents about the no-smoking policy. Use the Internet and search for “no-smoking”
or “smoke-free” apartments.
9) Should I seek legal
You may have a better case if you can document that you have
made every attempt to resolve the problem. Keep in mind that going to
court can be expensive, can take a long time, and winning a case is not
guaranteed. If you have never obtained legal help before, here are some tips about hiring a
lawyer. Some resources for locating an
attorney include: low-income legal aid, DU list of legal aid services, the Colorado Trial Lawyers
Association, and the Colorado
The Group to Alleviate
Smoking Pollution (GASP of Colorado) is a statewide nonprofit organization
working to eliminate secondhand smoke from the air we breathe by advocating for
smoke-free policies at work, in public places, and in multiunit housing. Your tax-deductible donation helps
GASP advocate for your right to breathe smoke-free air at work, in public
housing, and in multiunit housing.
None of the suggestions provided in this
document shall constitute legal advice.
Please consult an attorney before pursuing
to Alleviate Smoking Pollution