Blessing K : CA

One of the new young people who moved in next door this week was out on his balcony smoking at around midnight tonight. My apartment smelled strongly, so I checked. He admitted to smoking. He said he would stop. I informed him that this is a no-smoking complex, and that the smoking area is across the street. Multi-unit dwellings do not allow cigarette smoking within the units or common areas. The new tenants are very clearly apprised of the no smoking rules in our city, Pleasant Hill, and county, Contra Costa, and, I believe state, California. Yet, they think they will not be detected late at night. I stay up late, and like to let in some cool air. 

Especially during the COVID-19 shelter in place, this is egregious. And, I am vulnerable, over 65. COVID strikes the lungs and, and new findings point to the blood, causing clotting. Smoking has been shown to aggravate this and put people at higher risk. I am a health educator and well aware.

It is in my rental records (letters from doctors) that I have environmental sensitivities, and have health conditions that make smoke, especially cigarette smoke, life threatening for me to be exposed to, especially in close proximity - Sleep Apnea, Lyme, and a history of chronic bronchitis and almost fatal pneumonia. All, the result of neighbors who smoked - and the seeping of the smoke through the walls. 

My health has strengthened as a result of less exposure over time. I can provide medical documentation.

From my experience, smokers promise to stop, but do not. I cannot afford a situation that would be ongoing.

When I moved in, I clarified my smoking and environmental sensitivity. I was placed next to non-smokers. In fact, I was willing to store all my belongings, except a suitcase, and travel until the non-smoking apartment was available (another two weeks). Yet, the new management is more interested in filling apartments than caring about the safety and well-being of their existing tenants. By law, all multi-unit buildings are supposed to be non-smoking, instead of having a designated smoking building.

Management said they advised the tenants to stop and asked me to let them know if it continued. Tonight, at 10:00, I went out on my balcony and my throat burned from the acrid, unmistakeable smell of cigarette smoke. It is not from the street (designated smoking is across the street from our complex, and drifts over to my apartment at random hours). The air was fresh (er) at my front door, which faces the designated smoking area. I could get more oxygen. 

COVID destroys lung cells. Cigarette smoke gunks them up. The combination is life threatening, if not fatal. It is being made clear to the world (Pandemic) that smoking is a risk factor for COVID. 

Health guidelines are in place, and most reasonable people are following them. Now that people are going out more, so are the smokers. After sheltering in place, and feeling better, it is frightening to have smokers showing up and disrespecting the safeguards - smoking at entrances to stores, smoking on balconies in what had been an elder complex, now admitting all ages.

What can I do to protect myself? My apartment gets like a hot box - upper story with afternoon sun. I need to let in cool air at night to release the heat.

I pray for some creative solutions to this basic inaction and denial on the part of so many - and hope my grave does not say - "died from relentless cigarette smoke."

First Published: 1/1/0001 12:00:00 AM

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