A Burning Issue Smoking Bans in Private Apartments?

The late 1990s saw a surge of nationwide smoking restrictions put into effect. With varying amounts of resistance and controversy, workplaces, shops, theaters, restaurants and bars in a growing number of states—including New Jersey—all went smoke-free.

More recently, as the tide of public and medical opinion has turned more decisively against smoking, developers and administrators in a few buildings across the Hudson in New York City have attempted to ban smoking not just in common areas, but in private apartments as well.

No New Jersey condos have attempted to follow suit, but most industry experts agree that it's only a matter of time before the first Garden State condo attempts to go smoke-free. When that day comes, questions will inevitably arise: Is it morally right to impose restrictions on neighbors’ private residences? How will such decisions impact the building community’s cohesiveness? How will placing such restrictions on private units affect their resale value? And perhaps most important, is banning smoking in private apartments even legal?

New Jersey passed its own Smoke-Free Air Act in April 2006. Its provisions stated that smoking is a “leading cause of preventable disease and death in the state and the nation,” and that “smoking is prohibited in an indoor public place or workplace.” Exempted from the law are private homes and automobiles as well as cigar bars, cigar lounges, tobacco retail establishments, tobacco businesses and casinos under certain conditions. Anyone who is in violation of the law could be fined from $250 to $1,000 depending on the frequency of the offense.

The New Jersey law also stated that indoor public spaces and workplaces are required to put up visible signs that say that smoking is prohibited and that violators are subject to a fine. Conversely, the person in charge of the public spaces or workplaces may put up a “Smoking Permitted” sign in specific areas where smoking is allowed.


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  • Can a condo board prohibit smoking on limited common areas, like a balcony outside a condo unit
  • I have lived in my beautiful condo for 19 years. My neighbor below me who lived there for 17 years moved out and a smoker moved in. I cannot open my windows because they are outside smoking. Then when it is cold they smoke inside and I am trapped with the awful smell. I was happy here--what gives them the "right" to take that away from me because of their terrible addiction? They don't "have" to smoke. I wanted to spend my retirement years here.
  • Can a condo association put to a vote no smoking on premises, when the units are purchased as rental properties?
  • Meanwhile apartment and condo owners suffer from second hand smoke that pollutes common areas/hallways and spreads into non-smokers' units. So what's the purpose of the clean air act if neither the state tobacco control nor municipal health departments enforce it for apartments/condos? It does not protect non-smokers in apartments and condos in this state. Why aren't these non-profit public interest groups suing landlords and condo associations??? Smoking in or near residential units/condos should be banned and criminalized.
  • We live in a townhouse surrounded by smokers, we're fed up not being able to do anything about this disgusting smell. When the air or heat is on it seeps through the walls into our home. Then when your able to open your deck or windows the smokers sit on the adjoining deck and smoke gets in our home. How is this protecting a non-smoker? Either way we loose not be able to open our windows or smell it when the heat and A/C is on. This is unfair for non-smokers. Please change the laws.
  • I live abover a smoker in union city. It has cost me thousands of dollars, effected our health, and partially wrecked my career. She smokes in the middle of the night.... have to move our daughter out of her room, open all the windows and crank up 3 hepa filtration systems. These don't really do anything until they have run for a few hours. We all sleep in the middle or our apt to escape the air pollution. This has really ruined so many parts of our lives. I can never sleep since the smoke would come in our unit 1am - 4am. I'd have send emails to everyone. The lady downstairs lies and doesn't tell the truth so i have to get verification the smoke is coming from her unit... it is the worst nightmare ever. NJ really needs to get in touch with these smoking laws. I have little girl who was getting her room filled with this toxic smoke. One thing for sure is I'll never buy a property in NJ ever again.
  • My co op voted no smoking. A resident moved in about 4 years ago and said he smoked outside he lied and the board warned him with legal letters He now occasionally smokes in his car but he is a chain smoker and continues to smoke in his apartment when they come to inspect he says the smoke is on his clothes. He continues to lie and says he smokes outside. When I complained to the board my car was vandalized so the board put in cameras. What can be done when someone lies is there a machine that can tell if he is smoking in unit? Not happy in Red Bank NJ
  • Live in a smoke-free building and the condo board refuses to fine a month to month renter... I haven't been able to live in my condo for 6_months now. It's ruined my career and family.
  • A law needs to be passed re: Condos/apartment buildings to be SMOKE FREE!!! I'm a NON-SMOKER and I don't want other people's cancer sticks causing me sore throats, irritated eyes etc. If other people want to smoke, they can smoke OUTSIDE! Why should I have to have my health at RISK because of other people's DISGUSTING habits!!!