For Tenants

"There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke" - 2006 US Surgeon General's Report, The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke

If your neighbors' smoke is entering your apartment, you are not alone.  The good news is more and more properties are implementing smokefree policies. Visit the Illinois Smokefree Housing Directory to find a property that is already smokefree!

Strategies for Making Your Building Smokefree

Document the Problem. The first step in working toward a smokefree policy for your building is to document the existing problem.  If you are being exposed to secondhand smoke, you want to keep a log of when you smell the smoke, where the smoke is entering your unit and if possible, where the smoke is coming from.  You may not know which of your neighbors is the source of the smoke, and may need to ask around.  Don’t rule out that it might not be your neighbor, but one of their guests. This is also a good opportunity to find out if your neighbors are experiencing similar issues with the smoke, and if they would be willing to talk to the landlord with you.

You also will want to document your or your family member’s symptoms and illnesses.  Health problems may include ear infections, sore throats, asthma attacks and bronchitis.  If possible, ask your physician to write a note; this will add legitimacy to your problem. 

Offer Solutions.  Make a list of any solutions you have tried to address the issue yourself.  If you feel comfortable with the smoking neighbor, try talking to them and educating them on the effects their smoking is having on you.  Offer them alternatives, such as smoking outside and away from the building.  Make sure to document the interaction to share with your landlord.

Know Your Rights.  Remember, there is no constitutional right to smoke!  Review your current lease agreement for any existing policy regarding nuisances.  Smoking may not be mentioned, but the nuisance clause may be applicable. Read the Landlord and Tenant Rights and Laws from the Illinois Attorney General.

Talk to Your Landlord.  Write a letter to your building manager or property owner, explaining the situation and offering possible solutions.  Include a copy of the physician’s note if you have one.  Request a meeting with your landlord to discuss the issue.  Invite any neighbors who are also being affected to sign the letter or participate in the meeting with you.

Educate Your Landlord.  Provide your landlord with information on the benefits and their legal ability to pass a smokefree policy for their properties.  Offer solutions such as conducting a tenant survey or meeting on the issue.  You can also direct them to visit our website, www.SmokeFreeIllinois.org, and review the ‘For Landlords’ section, to learn more about smokefree housing policies.  If your landlord is not willing to consider making the entire property smokefree, still try to find a solution for you and your family.  Suggest relocating you and your family to a different part of the building, or allowing you to end your lease early to find a smokefree building.

Fact Sheets

For more information or assistance, please contact us at Smokefree@LungIL.org.