Help! My neighbor smokes and every time he goes out on his apartment balcony to have a cigarette, the smell pours into my apartment! I get that he’s just enjoying his outdoor space, but his enjoyment makes me enjoy my space less because I'm being smothered! What (if anything) can I do?
Dear Second-Hand Smokey,
First of all, second-hand smoke is gross and unhealthy so I’m glad you’re addressing this problem now. You’re right that your neighbor is just enjoying his balcony and the truth is, he’s probably not even thinking about the smoke he’s creating. He’s probably thinking about his plans that night or mulling over a problem he’s having while relaxing with a cigarette. So the first step is to make him aware that it’s bothering you. Nicely. Take a few deep breaths (if you can in that smoky apartment!) and calmly go outside the next time he’s smoking. Casually and politely tell him that your apartment is filling with his smoke and you “wish these damn walls weren’t so drafty!” See what I did there? I made it about something else rather than blaming him. If he feels like you’re yelling, he’ll be much less willing to work it out. Try to make like you’re a team who can figure out this problem together. That might nip the problem in the bud right there. If not and he’s unresponsive to your escalating attempts to resolve your tiff in a mutually beneficial way then 1. He’s a jerk and 2. It’s time to check your lease (if you’re a renter) to see what it says regarding cigarettes. If he’s in violation then go ahead and report him. It won’t be fun (and will probably make things awkward in the elevator) but at least you’ll be able to breathe.