Etiquette Questions, Answered: Tricky Conversations
How Do I Tell a Neighbor His Smoking Is Bothering Me?
Q. How do I nicely ask the man in the apartment next to mine to stop smoking on his terrace? The smoke comes into my apartment
and makes me miserable.
A. Obviously, this fellow has a right to smoke on his own property. On the other hand, you are neighbors, and the neighborly thing to do is compromise. So talk to him in a cordial way that indicates you respect his rights. The next time you run into him, say, “Hey, Robert, I know you like to smoke. And you should be allowed to smoke. But it’s making me unhappy when I have to breathe it in. What should we do?”
You could offer to buy a fan for his terrace to blow smoke away from the building. Or, if he’s really nice, he may offer to go outside the building, away from the terrace, in pleasant weather, which would cut down on your exposure. And if all else fails and you can’t tolerate the smoke anymore, you may want to make your next abode a smoke-free one. (Check out smokefreeapartments.org for more information.)
So maybe you can’t change your health overnight. But you can get a head start.