Second-hand or passive smoking, causes adverse health effects — including cancer — and any level of exposure is unsafe.
While single dwellings or private homes are often separate, second-hand smoke can drift from one property to another through windows, doors, vents and other openings. Issues can worsen when neighbours smoke close to the boundary between two properties.
Smoke drift can impede people’s right to breathe clean air in their home and is often a cause of tension or disputes among neighbours.
How to address second-hand smoke in a single dwelling?
Unlike apartment complexes, strata title properties and retirement villages, there are no governing regulations to protect single dwelling residents from second-hand smoke exposure.
However, there are ways you can try to address the issue:
1. Speak to your neighbour
Ask your neighbour politely to smoke somewhere that does not impact you. You can do this in person or by writing a letter. Be sure to explain how it’s impacting your health and wellbeing and provide suggestions on where they can smoke where it won’t affect neighbouring properties.
2. Report the issue to your local council
If you have tried speaking with the neighbour and the issue isn’t resolved, report it to your local council. Second-hand smoke is a nuisance and a hazard and should be treated the same as noise complaints. You can also try contacting your local health district to see if they can help resolve the issue.
3. Contact the property manager
If the neighbour is renting, they need to abide by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and not “interfere, or cause or permit any interference, with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of any neighbour of the tenant”. In this case, report the second-hand smoke issue with the property manager or real estate agent. If the issue isn’t resolved, contact Fair Trading for further advice. Breaches of the Residential Tenancies Act can also be pursued through the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
We recommend keeping a log of when and how often the smoke-drift occurs, and get a letter from your doctor outlining the impact the second-hand smoke is having on your health and wellbeing. They help prove the frequency, duration and impact of the issue.
If you have any questions about second-hand smoke in single dwellings, please contact the Tobacco Control Unit.