Today’s Hot Topic: NO Smoking Rules

Condominiumand cooperative associations can’t make everyone happy.  Smoking is a smoldering issue lately as an increasing number of boards are voting go “smoke free.”  In some communities, restrictions apply to outdoor common areas, which include pool decks, courtyards, lawns, and pathways.  But just how far can a board go to fan the flames of nicotine-dependent residents?  The answer might sound crazy … but is no longer hazy: they can ban smoking on private lanais, balconies, even INSIDE individual units.


While smokers might believe they should have the right to light up behind closed doors, the Florida Clean Air Act (Chapter 386 of the FL Statutes) applies to all types of tobacco smoke… and lower courts have repeatedly recognized the power of boards to create enforceable comprehensive smoking bans.  Does that seem too invasive? 




Remember that condo and coop associations are in place to ensure the basic comforts of residents, anticipate operating costs, reduce risk, and maintain strong property values.  Most declarations incorporate “nuisance clauses,” which allow associations to govern and prohibit menacing acts.  For the same reasons association boards can restrict incessant barking and loud music, they can protect all residents from the negative effects of smoking and vaping.  The law in Florida states that condo and coop rules are presumed to be valid and enforceable unless they’re arbitrary, they violate public policy, or they infringe on your constitutional rights.  The current trend suggests an association only needs to include a specific smoking prohibition in its governing documents to put out your cigarette for you.


Who’s the Real Ash-Hole Here?


This is a tough question.  It seems we should be able to indulge in our most guilty pleasures within the confines of our own spaces.  Is private smoking really a nuisance?  Yes, it can be … because it’s not truly private.  More than 60% of the air we breathe can be exchanged between neighboring units, as internal air systems work to distribute polluted air throughout an entire building.  Tobacco Free Florida reports that secondhand smoke alone contributes to more than 40,000 deaths per year.  Exposure can be especially devastating to non-smokers and children, who aresometimes dealt the unfair consequences of severe asthma, permanent lung damage, cardiac complications, internal infections, a plethora of cancers, and SIDS (just to name a few).These dangers relate specifically to the health and welfare of all unit owners, tenants, and guests – not just the ones enjoying the buzz.


Let’s Clear the Air


Don’t despair – there are mutual advantages in the air.  All residents of smoke-free communities enjoy the following benefits of stricter and more broadly defined policies:


  1. Cleaner, fresher air
  2. An absence of unsightly ash receptacles and stray butts
  3. A reduction in neighbor conflict and complaints to management
  4. A healthier environment for adults, children, and animals
  5. Insurance premium and policy advantages
  6. A decrease in burn and fire risks
  7. Increased property values
  8. Higher desirability amongst buyers and tenants
  9. An absence of third-hand smoke hazards

If the ability to smoke is not negotiable, tell your Realtor and choose your home carefully.  Even condominiums and cooperatives without full smoking bans today could vote on habit-hindering rules tomorrow. 


Dedicated to you. It has always been our mission to bring our clients home. Contact us today!