Getting people to smoke elsewhere
October 18, 2004 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Cigarette Smoke Filter.
I am currently working at 305 Broadway, a building full of lawyers, (inlcuding me) in lower Manhattan. On the adjacent floor below, someone, or some set of people is smoking, and

[mi]their smoke goes through the ceiling/floor, or the ventilation system, to ME. The person (persons--I know there is at least one) has been approached to advised that what he is doing is illegal. I'm looking for effective creative solutions to get these people to stop their illegal pollution.
posted by ParisParamus to Human Relations (18 answers total)
If it's illegal, file a complaint.

(Is this really a question? Are you looking for ways to escalate this, or deal with it?)
posted by jpburns at 7:45 AM on October 18, 2004

My apologies, Paris, but aren't lawyers supposed to be themselves masters of "effective creative solutions"? In that, I cannot help you.

However, what I can suggest is that you determine exactly where the smoke originates and how it reaches you. Then, you should get the building manager involved since if it is coming through the floor, then it is a maintenance issue. Otherwise, if it is coming through the ventilation system, then the filters need changing.
posted by mischief at 7:49 AM on October 18, 2004

You're a lawyer, right?

Sue him.

Or better yet, sue the building.
posted by bshort at 8:44 AM on October 18, 2004

Sounds like you haven't actually approached him/them yourself. If possible, I'd try that. Then complain to the building manager. They can put out a notice to remind people this isn't okay. If that fails, sue everybody.

except me
posted by scarabic at 8:59 AM on October 18, 2004

First, as a tenant, it's building management's responsibility to protect you from illegal indoor smoking. If they do not cooperate, you need to get NY State involved.

Here is the link to the NYC online violation form to report illegal indoor smoking: You can also call the 311 number to place a complaint. The smokefreeny website has a bunch of official pdf files, so you can print out 'no smoking' signs and place them in stairwells or other places where you suspect people are smoking (you can find a link to the pdf on the smokefreeny website). This might be petty, but at least the offenders will know that you are vocal. Keep in mind that indoor smoking in the state of NY is illegal. Your rights are protected, and you have every reason to report it, and put an end to it. It is up to building management to control this, and they can be given a hefty fine by the state of NY if they do not protect your indoor smoke-free rights.

I've also had this second-hand cigarette smoke problem working in midtown manhattan a few years ago. We were tenants in a building of 40 floors. I called the secretary of the manager of the building when I could no longer take it. I had been putting up with shortness of breath, coughing, and dizziness from the smoke for months, hoping it would go away. And I wasn't about to go scouting around the enormous building to find the culprit. The secretary said to keep a log of all the time I smelled the smoke, so there'd be something concrete regarding the times and locations. In the meantime, they sent up a building maintenance guy to make sure I was indeed smelling cigarette smoke. After they finally confirmed that there was smoke coming into my office, they set about scouting the culprit. They finally found the person, and confronted her. From second-hand information, she was apparently rude, uncooperative, and indigent. They threatened to re-neg her lease, which finally made her quit smoking indoors. Every now and then, I'd smell it again, but I’d call building maintenance right away to report her.

It is not your responsibility to speak tot these people as scarabic recommended. In a public space like that, as a tenant, it is not your issue. They are breaking the law, and your management company must protect you. Go straight to building management. Also, if you can get a fellow office-mate to complain with you, it's effective to have a corroborator. In the meantime, submit a complaint online every time you smell it. It would also be helpful for you to explore the issue on your own and contact someone at the NYS Environmental Health Department: 1-800-458-1158. Good luck.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:51 AM on October 18, 2004

"indigent" !? heheh

Another thought: If cigarette smoke is coming up through the floor, then the building is not properly protected against fire hazards (in most states anyway, I only know Georgia's code but I imagine NY is as strict). The reasoning is that if smoke can get through, then so can sufficient heat to ignite a new blaze on a higher floor.
posted by mischief at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2004

ask the smoker if he can go on hiatus
posted by matteo at 10:28 AM on October 18, 2004

"Indignant": I blame MS Word spell checker + 4 hours of sleep...
posted by naxosaxur at 10:34 AM on October 18, 2004

I wish I could sue for the coughing the terrible perfume some of the customers that come into my store wear.
posted by shepd at 10:41 AM on October 18, 2004

A lawyer is coming to AskMe for advice on how to deal with conflict resolution involving illegal activity?

*head explodes*
posted by mkultra at 10:59 AM on October 18, 2004 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks. I'll do the legal avenues, but I was really hoping for some clever extra-legal idea (perhaps on the level of the 10,000 marbles in Animal House). as for the ventilation, this building is probably about to have its 85th or 90th birthday, so ha! As for the legal channels, somehow I suspect that will get me nowhere....slowly. Lawyers are, generally, as primitive as they're reputed to be, and I'll be the profession's smoking rate is double or triple the average for people of comparable "education."
posted by ParisParamus at 10:59 AM on October 18, 2004

Response by poster: Or, if not the marbles, as an analogy, how about the room temperature-stinky substance some road authority puts on pinetrees near the NJ Turnpike (or some road) so that people don't cut the trees down for Christmas
posted by ParisParamus at 11:07 AM on October 18, 2004

Response by poster: hmmm. Lots of typos: as for > As for
I'll be > I'll bet.

(Sorry: the smoke is back, and it impairs my brain function bigtime!)
posted by ParisParamus at 11:10 AM on October 18, 2004

PP, as a smoker and as someone who has sparred with you on similar issues in the past, I'd just like to say that I find that kind of behavior on their part reprehensible, and I'm sorry you have to put up with it.

There is perhaps nothing more grating to me than when someone acts out of pure self-interest, against the very clear parameters that civilized society has set up, and as such, I do not think you have any moral obligation to stay within those boundaries. My recommendation to you is thus:

Go through a stack of magazines and remove the cigarette advertisements. You'll need a lot of them -- perhaps twenty. Take the ads and photocopy them at your local Kinko's. Wear gloves throughout.

Stay late on a Friday, then when everyone has left, superglue the advertisements on the door of the offending office. Be quick like a ninja.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:33 AM on October 18, 2004

PP - Can't you simply do some quick detective work and leave a few suggestive notes for the cigar smoker -

I know about you and the things you do alone with those cigars of yours!

I couldn't resist. But it might work.....or the cigar smoker might move and inflict the smoke on another hapless lawyer. Just not you.
posted by troutfishing at 4:22 PM on October 18, 2004

Move to France. Nobody smokes there.
posted by zaelic at 5:37 PM on October 18, 2004

Response by poster: It's not cigar, and the person knows it's illegal, but doesn't care. And I better not meet the person in question in the elevator. Most lawyers are just so fucking uncivilized.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:07 PM on October 18, 2004

So you're looking for a, shall we say, extralegal solution?

May i suggest Get Even!: the complete book of dirty tricks by George Hayduke?

you didn't hear it from me.
posted by Miles Long at 10:00 AM on October 19, 2004

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