How to handle the smoke from next door

18 October 2019 | Cancer Council NSW

It’s a gorgeous, sunny Sunday afternoon, so you throw open the windows to let a breeze in. As you admire the view from your apartment, you hear a familiar clicking sound from below. *Thud* – you close your windows in a huff. The last thing you want right now is your neighbour’s cigarette smoke wafting into your bedroom!

Sound familiar?

Surveys show that 93% of Australians want to live in smoke-free homes. Clearly, many of us think second-hand smoke is a nuisance. But is it a health risk? How concerned should you be? And what can you do about it?


Is second-hand smoke a health risk?

In a word: Yes. There are more than seven thousand chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and at least 69 are known to cause cancer. Second-hand smoke causes more than 1.2 million premature deaths each year worldwide.


How far can smoke travel in an apartment block?

If you live in an apartment block with neighbours who smoke, you’re particularly at risk of breathing in second-hand smoke. This is because smoke travels easily through homes and common areas via doorways, windows, cracks in walls, electrical lines, ventilation systems and plumbing.

This means that, even if you’re living in a larger apartment complex, you might still be breathing in second-hand smoke. In fact, living in an apartment means you’re twice as likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke than people living in detached houses. Cancer Council has found that 1 in 3 people living in apartments in NSW reported second-hand smoke exposure inside their homes. Of these people, 62% experience it weekly*.


What can you do about second-hand smoke?

Did you know that NSW strata committees have the authority to ban smoking by introducing a smoke-free by-law? Bear with us. This basically means that you, as an apartment owner or renter, can make your apartment building smoke-free.

How? We’re here to help. Download our ‘Achieving Smoke-Free Apartment Living’ toolkit. This will help you understand the health, financial and legal benefits of smoke-free apartment blocks, and how you can get a smoke-free by-law introduced in your building.



For more information on how to make your apartment building smoke-free, visit our website and download the toolkit!

*Stats taken from Cancer Council’s 2016 Community Survey on Cancer Prevention