There is a saying “A man’s home is his castle.” I guess I subscribe to that sentiment. But in Maryland, some of our “castles” may become a little less free.
State Delegate Ben Kramer (D-Montgomery County) has introduced a bill that would have the potential of outlawing smoking in condos, apartments and townhouses in Maryland.
The bill doesn’t specifically ban smoking, but it does allow for neighbors who claim to be bothered by the smoke to make demands and seek penalties that would effectively ban smoking in one’s “castle.”
My initial reaction to this bill was “Ridiculous, if I want to smoke a cigar in the privacy of my own home, I darned well will.” Ok, in real life I won’t, because my wife would kill me, but you get the idea.
But the more I think about this issue, the more I can see the other side too. I can imagine how troubling it would be to spend $400,000 on a nice new townhouse, only to have a neighbor, sharing a wall, who smokes three packs a day. Smoke can travel through electric outlets, plumbing and common air ducts.
Many people who are anti-smoking are unreasonable zealots. These are the folks who want to ban smoking not only inside but outside as well. In some towns in California, smokers are not allowed to light up in public parks.
But on this issue of homeowners’ rights, I would suggest it cuts both ways. As much as one homeowner should have the right to smoke in his own home, his neighbor also has a right not to have to endure the smell within his walls.
So what to do? Well, in this case, I am turning the question over to you. Let’s make the question simple. Should people who live in townhomes, condos and apartments be prohibited from smoking inside their residences if their neighbors can prove the smell carries into their unit? Write me with your thoughts and if I receive enough good e-mails, next week’s column could be entirely written by some of you. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thoughtful debate over a smoldering issue is a Core Value.