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Smokers Face Fight to Light Up at Home

Neighbors' complaints could lead to home smoking bans for public housing residents.

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By McCarton Ackerman

01/18/12

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In recent years, smokers have been banned from lighting up in bars and public parks throughout the country, but they're now battling to light up in their own homes. Non-smoking residents of public housing in the DC and Maryland area are complaining that secondhand smoke seeps through the walls of their units and affects their health. Legislators are getting involved, with Maryland delegate Ben Kramer planning to introduce a bill to modify the “nuisance statute” of home ownership contracts so that it clearly includes secondhand smoke. “Marylanders would be welcome to smoke in their own home unless there’s a legitimate complaint. This would put the burden of mitigating such a complaint on the creator of the nuisance, not on those adversely affected,” says Kramer. Similar bills have passed in cities such as Austin and Boston. According to the Public Health Law Center at Minnesota’s William Mitchell College of Law, local courts have ruled in favor of both sides of the issue, with some judges considering secondhand smoke to be a nuisance and others likening it to odor intrusion that's part of living in a community environment.

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